Marine Corps Investigates Crash

The Marine Corps is trying to find out what caused two fighter jets from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort to crash. The F/A-18 Hornets went down 40 miles off the coast of Hilton Head Wednesday morning during a training mission. The Marine Corps is hoping US Coast Guard video of the rescue will help them figure out what went wrong. The Coast Guard Air Station Savannah found the pilots about a half a mile apart shortly after 8:30am yesterday. Coast Guard rescuers say the pilots were shaken, but appeared to be all right.

"It could have been a lot worse," explained Capt. Don Caetano, from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. "These guys are lucky to be able to walk away from something like this. Ejecting is a very traumatic experience."

Caetano said every pilot trains on how to eject. It's part of the years of training pilots undergo before getting in the cockpit. "For both of them to literally be able to walk away from this," Caetano added, "is a testament to the type of training they receive. We're disappointed this happened; but we're happy our pilots were able to eject safely."

The pilots are identified as 37-year-old Maj. Breton Sanders and 29-year-old Capt. Matthew McInerney. Both men are assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, "The Silver Eagles," at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. Both are also veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Caetano says the investigation will be thorough; however, Marine Corps has no timetable for completing it. There's no word if any other agencies will be involved. The Marine Corps says the F/A-18s have not been recovered.

Reported by: Liz Flynn,