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Search for missing Marine remains rescue operation

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The search for a Marine remains a rescue operation, nearly a full day after he went missing from a training flight on an Osprey aircraft over Bladen County.

Search crews are using search and rescue dogs, ATVs, helicopters and radar tracks to find the Marine, whose name has not been released.

The Marine Corps says it happened around 6:30 p.m. north of White Lake near the Bladen-Sampson County line. Bladen County dispatchers say the search is back on this morning after efforts were suspended around 2 a.m.

The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Marine was the crew chief on board the MV-22B Osprey, which means he should have been tethered in the back of the aircraft, which has the ability to take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane.

During a news conference this morning, USMC Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger said that everyone on board the Osprey had a restraint system. He said the crew of the Osprey noticed while still in flight that the Marine was no longer on board. Harshberger said the search will continue until the missing Marine, whose name has not yet been released, is found.

Hundreds of Marines from MCAS New River near Jacksonville arrived this afternoon to join the more than one dozen search teams already looking for the missing Marine. The Marine Corps also has four helicopters in the air as part of the search.

Bladen County Fire Marshal Bradley Kinlaw said Bladen and Sampson County emergency units are helping military crews in the search.

Searchers started this morning at Turtle Cove on the west bank of White Lake and headed toward Autrytown Road. They say the search area includes several blueberry fields and Carolina Bays. That means crews will have to deal with thick, marshy areas, which could make the search difficult, Kinlaw said.

Kinlaw says the Osprey crew was doing touch and go training at the airport in Elizabethtown, when the crew noticed the Marine missing near Maple Bay about five miles from White Lake.

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