DALLAS - A North Texas Marine is among the 16 servicemen killed in a cargo plane crash in Mississippi.
The family of Staff Sgt. Joshua Snowden told FOX 4 that he was killed when a KC-130 crashed in Itta Bena. Fifteen Marines and a sailor were killed.
Snowden lived in New York, where his Marine unit was based. But the 31-year-old grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Highland Park High School in 2004, where he played lacrosse.
His family has not been able to talk at length about his death, but the military confirmed the cargo plane left North Carolina and was headed to Arizona when it crashed in rural Mississippi. The Marine Corps said personal weapons and small arms ammunition were aboard.
Witnesses said they heard low rumbling explosions when the plane was still high in the sky and saw the aircraft spiraling toward the ground along with an apparently empty but open parachute.
Lacrosse Coach Bruce Nolly says he remembers Snowden well and that his character set him apart.
"What a great young man and cordial, friendly guy," his former coach said. "He got along with everybody on the team."
Nolley says an exceptional character is what made Snowden so memorable and always set an example and served others down to his last day.
"It's not always the player that really stands out on the field. It's more or less the character of the young men that stood out," Nolley said. "With our lacrosse program, it's not just player, coaches and parents. We are a big family, a big lacrosse family. So it's like taking the loss of a family member."
“The tragedy in Mississippi reminds us that the brave men and women put themselves in harm’s way every day — at home and abroad, in training and in combat in service to our nation,” said Arizona Senator John McCain.
“Every resource that we have that we can pull from will be used to determine what happened,” said Major Andrew Aranda. “And every resource that we can give to the families as well will be made available to them.”
Seven of the troops who were picked up in North Carolina were members of special operations forces and were being flown to Arizona for training.
Investigators had to wait until the ammunition on board burned off and exploded on its own before they could get close to the wreckage.
Snowden’s family said they are not ready to talk but will issue a statement as soon as they're ready.
The crash was the deadliest Marine Corps air disaster since 2005, when a transport helicopter went down during a sandstorm in Iraq, killing 30 Marines and a sailor.
The Marine Corps has not yet released the names of those killed in the crash.