Via Clarion Ledger:
A year after a U.S. Marine Corps plane broke into pieces high in the sky and slammed into a Mississippi soybean field, relatives and friends are keeping alive the memories of the 15 Marines and Navy corpsman who died in the crash.
It’s an active form of memory — building, telling, hiking, running — to honor the New York-based crewmembers who flew the KC-130T military transport, as well as the special forces Marines they were carrying from North Carolina to California for training.
“All we want to do is talk about them and share who they were with the rest of the world,” said Anna Johnson, the widow of Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson, a crew member.
More than 200 family members and friends gathered Saturday in the Mississippi Delta town of Itta Bena to dedicate a monument to the July 10, 2017, crash of the plane, whose call sign was Yanky 72.
Among speakers at a ceremony at Mississippi Valley State University were Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps. Ronald L. Green, Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Mississippi’s Marine Corps League led an effort that raised more than $100,000 for a memorial outside a government building where the recovery effort was based, several miles east of the crash site. Mississippi lawmakers named the stretch of U.S. 82 that ran through the debris field the Yanky 72 Memorial Highway.
For many of the relatives, it was the first time they’ve come to the crash site and the first time members of all families have gathered. Several praised the warmth of the Mississippi organizers.
“I’m there for a community that has been unbelievably kind to us,” Johnson said. “I want to thank them for this blessing that they have given to us, to build this memorial.”