Wichitan among missing Marines

Nathan Ordway, of Wichita, is one of the three missing Marines after their aircraft crashed off the coast of Australia.
Nathan Ordway, of Wichita, is one of the three missing Marines after their aircraft crashed off the coast of Australia. Courtesy photo

One of three Marines reported missing after their aircraft crashed into the sea off the east coast of Australia is Wichita native Cpl. Nathan Ordway, according to the Marine Corps.

On the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Facebook page, his sister Taylor asked people to “please pray for my brother and the two other marines.”

U.S. military officials called off the search and rescue on Sunday. The wreckage was found Monday, the Associated Press reported. Ordway, 1st Lt. Benjamin Cross and pfc Ruben Velasco were aboard their Osprey aircraft when it crashed while trying to land on Saturday, according to a statement from Camp Butler, the Marine base in Japan.

The MV-22 aircraft had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and was conducting regular operations when it fell, the statement said. The ship’s small boats and other aircraft immediately responded, the statement said.

Twenty-three people were rescued from the crash, the statement said.

Australian navy divers began working Monday to recover the aircraft and the three Marines presumed to be dead.

The Marines’ next of kin have been notified.

Ordway graduated from Wichita Heights High School before joining the Marines. He played football for the school, according to its 2011 online roster.

Friends have taken to Facebook to share their memories of him.

Nathan Harrel said, “Just learned that one of the poolees, Nathan Ordway, I had the pleasure of helping into the Marines Corps was 1 of the 3 missing Marines from the crash in Australia. Even though I did not have the pleasure to personally recruit him, I remember talking to him hours on end about being a crewchief and remember how excited he was to become a Marine.”

The circumstances of what led to the crash are under investigation and it’s unclear why the Osprey crashed.

The aircraft, according to Bloomberg, was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 and was operating with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU.

The MV-22 is a hybrid-type aircraft that can take off and land as a helicopter but transitions its two engines to fly like an airplane in midflight. The aircraft had a turbulent development history and was involved in multiple fatal crashes, Bloomberg reported.

Nichole Manna: 316-269-6752, @NicholeManna