The three U.S Marines who died when an Osprey aircraft crashed into the sea off the coast of Australia have been identified by officials, while the effort to salvage the wreckage continues.
First Lt. Benjamin Cross, Cpl. Nathan Ordway and Pfc. Ruben Velasco -- who had just turned 19 -- died Saturday when their heli-plane failed to land on the USS Green Bay, stationed off of Australia's eastern seaboard. Instead the MV-22 Osprey smashed into the ship's stern and fell into the water.
A rescue team was able to save 23 of the servicemen aboard, but could not reach Cross, Ordway, and Velasco before the aircraft sank.
"The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family," Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a statement. "To the families of the brave Marines we lost -- there is no way for us to understand what you are going through."
"They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts. You will always be a part of the Marine Corps family, and you will remain in our prayers," the statement continued.
The submerged Osprey was located by the Royal Australian Navy Monday, with plans underway to bring it to the surface.
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is based in Japan, but was in Australia for a training exercise.
The Marine Corps said Monday it had not grounded the aircraft in Japan despite a request from the Japanese government following the incident.