LONDON: An Indian-American marine has been killed after a single-seat aircraft he was flying crashed shortly after take-off near a US airfield in England.
The crash occurred on Wednesday when San Diego-based Major Taj Sareen was piloting his F/A-18C Hornet to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in the US after a six-month deployment in the Middle East, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. This was Sareen’s third deployment. But whenever he was away, he’d speak with his family every day.
“The aircraft went down near the Lakenheath Royal Air Force base,” the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing was quoted as saying by the daily.
The aviation wing is headquartered at Miramar. The Hornet crashed shortly after take-off, descending into farmland about six miles northwest of Lakenheath in the Cambridgeshire county of eastern England, it said.
Major Sareen was the only casualty, British officials said.
They also said he was ejected from the jet, although Marine officials have not verified that detail.
Other personnel from the “Red Devils” Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 have returned to Miramar this week, concluding their deployment in the Central Command area of military operations, the report said.
Major Sareen had deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and was an instructor with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101.
He was a native of Hillsborough. He was commissioned in the Corps in 2005. He graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2004.
U.S. Marine Maj. Taj Sareen’s family in Hillsborough is heartbroken. They discussed his final, heroic moments and the decision Taj made that may have saved many other lives. His parents and sister want people to know what kind of man Sareen was. They told ABC7 News about the last conversation they had with him that they will never forget. “I’ll see you in two days dad,” K.B. Sareen said. Those last words echo in a home Sareen was about to come back to.
The Marine fighter pilot was in one of six jets coming back to the states from the Persian Gulf when it crashed in England. He ejected, but did not survive.
Initial reports say one of his final moves was to avoid crashing into homes on the way down. “That’s the kind of person he was,” K.B. said.
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