Nine Dead in Puerto Rico Air National Guard Military Plane Crash

A military plane crash in Savannah, Georgia, killed nine airmen from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. The crash occurred on May 2, 2018, shortly after the plane took off from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. According to reports, the C-130 Hercules military cargo plane was on its way to Arizona on its final flight when it crashed.

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C-130 Plane Crashed Shortly After Takeoff 

The crash occurred moments after the plane, from Puerto Rico Air National Guard's 156th Airlift Wing, took off from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. According to Garden City Police, the plane hit the ground at Highway 21 and Gulfstream Road at around 11:30 a.m. on a routine mission to Arizona. Only the tail section of the plane remained intact following the crash.

At a news conference, Master Sgt. Roger Parsons of the Georgia Air National Guard said members of the National Guard were affected by the crash.

"We're brothers and sisters, we supported one other in these missions, and so no matter who it is, it hurts us whenever something like this happens."

Air National Guard's 156th Airlift Wing Victims Identified 

Killed in the crash were:

  • Maj. Jose R. Roman Rosado, the pilot
  • 1st Lt. David Albandoz, the co-pilot
  • Maj. Carlos Perez Serra, the navigator
  • Senior Master Sgt Jan Paravisini, a mechanic
  • Master Sgt. Jean Audriffred
  • Master Sgt. Mario Brana, a flight engineer
  • Master Sgt. Eric Circuns, a loadmaster
  • Master Sgt. Victor Colon
  • Senior Airman Roberto Espada

Witnesses Said Plane "Fell Out of Sky" in Savannah, Georgia 

Those who witnessed the plane crash called 911 to report what they had seen, which included the plane plummeting to the ground and erupting in flames. One witness reported the plane fell out of the sky and caught fire, while another said the plane nose-dived onto Interstate 95. Yet another witness said it looked as though the plane had engine trouble.

"I saw it take off from the airport and I noticed that one of the propellers wasn't turning," a witness told a 911 operator. "And he banked like he was going toward (Interstate) 95, and then all of a sudden he lost altitude and just took a nose dive into the ground."

One witness described the Hercules C-130 as doing a barrel roll before it crashed, while another attempted to give dispatchers the crash site's exact location. When asked if the plane was on fire, the witness said, "The plane like incinerated whenever it hit the concrete."

Roger Best, a witness who works near the crash site said the pilot was a hero for avoiding hitting anyone on the ground, including a facility that handles hazardous materials.

Concerns Raised About the Age of the Plane 

The C-130 Hercules was reportedly on its way to Arizona for decommissioning. At least one of the people on the plane and some family members expressed concerns about the age of the planes the Puerto Rican Air National Guard was using. The plane involved in the crash was manufactured in the 1970s and was about 40 years old. It received "routine maintenance" in Savannah.

Carlos Narvaez told the Tampa Bay Times that Maj. Jose Rafael Roman was one of those who had concerns.

"He told me, 'We're using the oldest planes of the entire United States of America'," Narvaez said.

Military investigators are now looking into what caused the crash. Col. Pete Boone, vice commander of the 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard, said they would use every resource at their disposal to determine what caused the plane to plummet to the ground.

Military Plane Crashes All Too Common

Tragically, plane crashes involving military aircraft are all too common, putting the lives of the brave men and women who serve our country at risk. Even in the U.S., there are risks to the airmen and women who fly military airplanes. On May 23, 2018, an Air Force T-38C Talon II crashed in Mississippi at around 8:30 a.m. Fortunately, both the instructor pilot and student pilot on board suffered minor injuries and were released from the hospital the same day.

Less than a year before the Georgia military plane crash, however, another KC-130 crash in Mississippi killed 15 Marines and one Navy Corpsmen. That plane was on its way from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, to the Naval Air Facility, El Centro, California. There were no survivors in that crash, which was the deadliest in the Marine Corps in more than 10 years.