HONORING THE FALLEN OF THE ``YANKY 72'' CRASH; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 117
(Senate - July 12, 2018)

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[Pages S4943-S4944]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mrs. HYDE-SMITH. Mr. President, I would like to call attention to a 
special event occurring this Saturday in Mississippi to honor 16 brave 
servicemembers who lost their lives a year ago in a tragic military 
aircraft crash.
  I look forward to joining family members, Marine Corps leaders, and 
the people of Leflore County, MS, to honor the 15 marines and one Navy 
corpsman who died on July 10, 2017, when their Marine Corps KC-130T 
``Yanky 72'' crashed near Itta Bena, MS.
  We have a responsibility to ensure we preserve the memory of those 
who gave that last full measure of devotion for our Nation. Those we 
lost last July include: Cpl Daniel Baldassare, SSgt Robert Cox, Capt. 
Sean Elliott, Maj. Caine Goyette, GySgt Sergeant Mark Hopkins, GySgt 
Brendan Johnson, Sgt Julian Kevianne, SSgt William Kundrat, Sgt Chad 
Jenson, Sgt Talon Leach, Sgt Owen Lennon, Sgt Joseph Murray, Cpl Collin 
Schaaff, Sgt Dietrich Schmieman, SSgt Joshua Snowden, and PO 2 Class 
Ryan Lohrey.
  Immediately after the accident and since then, first responders and 
the citizens of Mississippi rallied in support of the fallen. The 
unveiling of a permanent monument will culminate a significant effort 
in Mississippi and across the Nation to memorialize these brave young 
  I am proud of the people of my State for their commitment to remember 
the fallen and to support their families. A recent Greenwood 
Commonwealth editorial thoughtfully expresses the significance of this 
  I ask unanimous consent that the July 11, 2018, Greenwood 
Commonwealth editorial titled ``Open arms for families of the fallen'' 
be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

            [From the Greenwood Commonwealth, July 11, 2018]

                    Open Arms for Families of Fallen

       This weekend promises to be a highly emotional one for the 
     families of the 16 servicemen who lost their lives a year ago 
     when the transport plane on which they were flying fell out 
     of the sky for reasons still not publicly disclosed.
       It also could be a very meaningful weekend for the greater 
     Greenwood community,

[[Page S4944]]

     which has become associated with these 16 by a tragically sad 
     quirk of fate.
       When the KC-130T with the call name of Yanky 72 was flying 
     over the Mississippi Delta on July 10, 2017, no one on board 
     or on the ground below could have imagined that its final 
     destination would be a remote soybean field on the western 
     edge of Leflore County rather than an airstrip in California.
       It was a horrific accident, claiming the lives of everyone 
     on board--15 Marines and one Navy corpsman.
       Some 200 family members of those who died, plus a large 
     number of the fallen servicemen's comrades, are expected to 
     start arriving Thursday in Leflore County. For the next 72 
     hours or so, they will be our guests while they remember, 
     grieve and perhaps connect with some of the good people of 
     this community who, though they didn't personally know the 
     16, responded as if they did.
       Today, the Commonwealth publishes a special section that 
     not only explains what's planned to memorialize the 16, but 
     also gives some insight into who the 16 were, and tells how 
     some of their families have coped with their loss since that 
     fateful afternoon.
       Certainly, service in the military comes with risks. 
     Everyone who signs up for it knows it, as do all of their 
     friends and relatives. But death is not an ordinary outcome 
     when you're just flying from one base to another. It would be 
     hard to get one's mind around losing a loved one in a 
     warzone, but losing one so unexpectedly as this has to be all 
     that much tougher.
       A large group of state and local volunteers has organized 
     the Yanky 72 Memorial Weekend in a way that it hopes will 
     give some emotional aid to those who are grieving, while also 
     reassuring them that their sons, brothers, husbands and 
     boyfriends have not been forgotten, nor will they be.
       The families will be given the space to grieve in private, 
     to visit the crash scene, to share their experiences with 
     others who had relatives on that plane, to do whatever it is 
     that would give them some consolation. Some may want to be 
     left alone; some may want to connect.
       We know this community will respect their wishes and do 
     whatever it takes to make their weekend one in which they 
     feel surrounded by sympathy and love.
       Saturday's public events, including the unveiling of a 
     permanent memorial in Itta Bena, will provide a way to 
     acknowledge appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice paid for 
     by these 16. It would be wonderful if a large number of 
     citizens from this community turned out.
       For some of the fallen servicemen's families who come, this 
     may be their first and only trip into the Delta. Others may 
     make it a place of personal pilgrimage.
       Whichever occurs, let's hope that we become the locus not 
     of painful memories but of comforting ones.