Hundreds of people are participating in the effort to recover what’s left of the aircraft and clean up the area, Navy spokesman Erik Anderson told Marine Corps Times on Wednesday.
They hail from the Navy, the Marine Corps, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, local law enforcement and fire-and-rescue services, and “other federal agencies and F-35 program stakeholders,” according to Anderson.
Navy Region Southeast is leading the effort, according to a news release Tuesday from that unit. The Marine components involved are Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the Corps’ East-Coast-based aviation force.
“We appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from the Navy On-Scene Coordinator team as well as the community, and I would like to thank the local law enforcement and other agencies of Williamsburg County and South Carolina for their quick, professional response,” Col. Mark Bortnem, the air station’s commander, said in the release.
The Navy-led team is “working closely with local farmers to ensure continued agricultural operations in the area,” the news release reads.
The F-35B Lightning II fighter jet that crashed Sept. 17 temporarily went missing over South Carolina as its pilot ejected, landing in a north Charleston backyard. The pilot, whose identity hasn’t been released, told a 911 operator, “I’m not sure where the airplane is. It would have crash landed somewhere. I ejected.”
The Department of the Navy is investigating the crash, which wrecked an approximately $100 million jet. The crash, coming on the heels of two deadly Marine aviation mishaps, prompted the Marine Corps to ground aircraft for two days for a safety standdown.
The public affairs office at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, didn’t provide by time of publication the number of Marines involved in the cleanup effort.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.