Faith Leaders Hold Vigil In Rock Tavern For Fallen Service Members

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Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of these 16 men who died when a Marine KC-130 crashed in Leflore County on July 10, 2017. Dustin Barnes/The Clarion-Ledger

Supporters hold American flags on the side of Airport Road in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, July 13, 2017, as hearses carry the remains of the 16 service members who died in a plane crash in Leflore County, on Monday to the Air National Guard base for their final flights home.(Photo: Justin Sellers/The Clarion-Ledger via AP)

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Saturday night will be a chance to mourn those lost and care for those left behind after the tragic plane crash that killed 16 service members. 

Local faith leaders will hold a public vigil in support of families affected by the plane crash.

The 15 Marines and a Navy sailor killed Monday in a military plane crash in Mississippi came from around the country; nine of the fallen were based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.

Rev. Chris Antal, president of the Greater Newburgh Interfaith Council and minister at the Unitarian Universalist Rock Tavern congregation, said the motivation to hold the Saturday vigil was grief, and concern for the living.

PROFILES: Profiles of the 16 who died

PROFILE: Fishkill Marine among the military crash victims

>PLANE CRASH: Military plane crash in Mississippi leaves at least 16 dead

"I've done notifications," said Antal, a veteran who spent five years as a military chaplain. "I've done dignified transfers" of fallen service members' remains. Tragedies like this send "ripples throughout... the families and unit." 

While mourning the loss of the dead, local faith leaders "want the families and community to know we are here with them and for them in their grief," Antal said.

Nine marines -- Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson (a Fishkill resident), Maj. Caine Goyette, Sgt. Owen Lennon, Cpl. Collin Schaaff, Gunnery Sgt. Mark Hopkins, Capt. Sean Elliott, Sgt. Julian Kevianne, Cpl. Dan Baldassare and Staff Sgt. Joshua Snowden -- were based out of Stewart, home of the Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron 452.

Six of the Marines and the sailor -- Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman, Staff Sgt. William Joseph Kundrat, Sgt. Joseph Murray, Sgt. Talon Leach, Staff Sgt. Robert Cox, Sgt. Chad Jenson and Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ryan Lohrey -- were from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

All are welcome to attend the vigil, which will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. on a hilltop overlooking Stewart at the Unitarian Universalist Rock Tavern Congregation, located at 9 Vance Road in Rock Tavern.

Antal will be joined by the Rev. Mary Lou Baumgartner of the New Windsor-based King of Kings Lutheran Church and Rabbi Larry Freedman of Temple Beth Jacob in Newburgh.

A special cash collection will be delivered to surviving local families.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said the final set of remains was recovered Thursday from a farm field where the KC-130 crashed Monday. Most of the remains have since been flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where military officials say they will be processed by Air Force mortuary personnel and then released to their grieving families.

The plane was an extended-range tanker that was part of the Stewart-based Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron (VMGR) 452, Marine Air Group-49, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, which is part of the Marine Forces Reserve headquartered in New Orleans.

The cause of the crash, the deadliest Marine plane crash since 2005, still isn’t known. The FBI is assisting with the investigation, as is protocol, but foul play is not suspected.

The 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman on board planned to travel to El Centro, California, and then to Yuma, Arizona, by ground transport, according to a U.S. Marine Corps statement.

"Indications are something went wrong at cruise altitude. There is a large debris pattern," said Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commanding general for the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

Nina Schutzman: nschutzman@poughkeepsiejournal.com; the Associated Press, The USA Today Network and The Clarion-Ledger contributed to this report.

COMING SUNDAY

Coverage of the vigil and profiles of the nine local Marines will be in Sunday's Poughkeepsie Journal. 


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Source : http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2017/07/14/local-faith-leaders-hold-vigil-support-military-crash-victims/479234001/

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