The AV-8B Harrier that crashed Monday night near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina is in the early stages of being recovered by a Marine Corps team.
The Harrier came from Marine Attack Squadron 542 in the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. It crashed just outside the air station, near the Cherry Branch area of Havelock.
The crash occurred around 6:20 p.m. on May 20. The pilot, who safely ejected, was released from the Carolina East Medical Center later the same evening with no injuries.
The squadron has been working with aircraft rescue and fire fighting Marines, with explosive ordnance disposal technicians and with local law enforcement authorities to ensure the crash scene is safe to people nearby and the environment and to begin recovering the jet.
“I would like to start by thanking the Craven County Sheriff’s office and the community for their ongoing support. On days like this, our dedication to duty is reaffirmed and we are reminded how proud we are to call Havelock our home,” 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General Maj. Gen. Karsten Heckl said in a news release.
“Thankfully there were no serious injuries. The safety of our Marines and the local community is of the utmost importance to us and we are extremely grateful that everyone who was involved is ok.”
The Harrier crash is the Marine Corps’ third Class A mishap this month, after an engine bay fire in an F/A-18D Hornet and a bird strike that damaged an F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter that was preparing to take off.
The following is the full May 21, 2019, statement from the Marine Corps:
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. – A 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, AV-8B Harrier belonging to Marine Attack Squadron 542, crashed in the vicinity of Cherry Branch, North Carolina, at approximately 6:20 p.m. (EST), May 20, 2019. There are no reports of civilian casualties or personal property damage at this time.
The sole pilot on board ejected safely and was transported to Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern, North Carolina, where he was released, same day, with no injuries.
The aircraft is currently cordoned off and an emergency reclamation team is onsite and beginning aircraft recovery operations.
The Marines of Marine Attack Squadron 542 are working closely with the Marines of Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and both military and local authorities. The scene has been deemed safe and secure by all parties involved, but recovery personnel are still implementing environmental and personal protective measures.
According to the Commanding General of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Major General Karsten Heckl, “I would like to start by thanking the Craven County Sheriff’s office and the community for their ongoing support. On days like this, our dedication to duty is reaffirmed and we are reminded how proud we are to call Havelock our home. Thankfully there were no serious injuries. The safety of our Marines and the local community is of the utmost importance to us and we are extremely grateful that everyone who was involved is ok.”
The cause of the incident is still under investigation. As more information becomes available 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing will ensure its timely release to the public.