Marine killed in helicopter crash was son of Los Angeles Dodgers icon

‘He was my hero and the best man I know, there was no better person to defend our country’

5 Marines dead after military aircraft crash in Imperial County, California

Former Los Angeles Dodgers legend Steve Sax has paid tribute to his “precious” son John who was one of five Marines killed in an aircraft training crash accident in California on Wednesday.

Captain John Jeremy Sax, 33, died with four other crew members when their Osprey tiltrotor aircraft came down in a remote area of Imperial County around 30 miles north of the Mexican border.

“It is with complete devastation that I announce that my precious son, Johnny was one of the five US Marines that perished on Wednesday, June 8, in the Osprey Military crash near San Diego,” Steve Sax said in a statement published Saturday by CBSLA-TV.

“For those of you that knew Johnny, you saw his huge smile, bright light, his love for his family, the Marines, the joy of flying airplanes and defending our country.

“He was my hero and the best man I know, there was no better person to defend our country.”

Steve Sax, a second baseman who won two World Series in his seven seasons with the Dodgers, said his son had wanted to be a pilot since he was young and would talk about the types of planes that were flying overhead while playing in the outfield in Little League baseball.

“There was never any doubt from a young age that Johnny would be a pilot and his passion was to fly.” Mr Sax said.

“This loss will change my life forever and is a loss to not only the Marines but this world.”

The other victims were Captain Nicholas P Losapio, 31, Corporals Nathan E Carlson, 21, and Seth D Rasmuson, 21, and Lance Corporal Evan A Strickland, 19.

The Osprey, a hybrid airplane and helicopter, flew in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has been criticised by some as unsafe.

The Marines killed in the crash were based at Camp Pendleton with Marine Aircraft Group 39 and were part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

In a tweet, the Dodgers said they were “saddened to hear” about Cpt. Sax’s death.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to their families and friends.”

The Osprey, a hybrid airplane and helicopter, flew in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has been criticised by some as unsafe.

It is designed to take off like a helicopter, rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and cruise like an airplane.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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