Deadly military crash in Mississippi continues to impact NY town where plane was based

Posted at 8:02 PM, Jul 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 20:02:58-04

NEW WINDSOR, NY — Monday's deadly crash of a KC130T Marines refueling plane in Mississippi that killed 16 members of the military is having a heavy impact back home.

The impact is being felt at Stewart Air National Guard Base and by the community surrounding it.

"They are part of our extended family and we are all very distraught over this," said Maria Spina after the lunchtime crowd had dwindled at the Neptune Diner.

Her family has served up members of the military for 35 years at the the diner that sits off Route 17.

A few miles from the diner and in the shadows of the base, Brooke Cooper had a different perspective.

"That could have been, it could have been anyone in my family," Cooper said.

Her husband flies for the Air Force out of the base the Marines share at Stewart International Airport.   When the news broke on Monday of the aerial tanker plunging out of the sky, it immediately hit close to her heart.

"You just think of them as your own, especially when you are a military wife," Cooper said. " Your heart breaks for them and you just want to do whatever you can."

As more information emerged that there were nine members of the Aerial Refueling Transportation Squadron nicknamed the "Yankees" aboard the doomed plane, so did more ties to the area.

PIX 11News reported on the death of Dan Baldassare from Colts Neck, New Jersey less than 24 hours ago. His friend Ryan McGowan said he was a soldier in the making for years.

"He was a patriot and all he wanted to do was serve our country," McGowan said. reported on Wednesday that another Marine who lost his life is Owen Lennon, a 26-year-old Marine from Ramapo.

Back at the Neptune Diner, it was Spina who battled her emotions and shared what this base and its people mean to the community.

"It's part of what we are thankful for, that all of these young gentleman fight for our freedom and we are very proud of them."