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Spc. Jeremy Tomlin killed in Maryland Black Hawk crash

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The soldier who died at the site of an Army UH-60 Black Hawk crash in Leonardtown, Maryland Monday was a 22-year-old crew chief, officials announced Tuesday evening.

Spc. Jeremy Darrell Tomlin, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was pronounced dead on-site at the Breton Bay Golf Course and Country Club by a civilian first responder from St. Mary’s County, officials with the Army’s Military District of Washington said in a news release.

The two other crew members — the pilot and a company commander — remain at the University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, both in critical condition, officials said. The pilot was identified as Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Nicholas and the crew member as Capt. Terikazu Onoda, commander of 12th Aviation Battalion’s Charlie Company.

The Black Hawk, assigned to the unit and based out of Fort Belvoir in Maryland was one of three conducting a routine training mission Monday afternoon. It’s not yet clear what caused one of the Black Hawks to descend with enough force to crumple the aircraft. The two other helos were not involved in the incident, officials said, and the crew members within were uninjured.

Witnesses who spoke to local news outlets described watching the aircraft, used by the Army for troop and equipment transport, descend in circles before crashing into the golf course. The site, including scattered pieces of the aircraft, has now been fully secured, officials said.

The 12th Aviation Battalion, to which all three crew members were assigned, provides transportation and aviation support to various military and government agencies in the Washington, D.C. region.

The tragic incident is now under investigation by a team from the Army Combat Readiness Center out of Fort Rucker in Alabama, which arrived at the crash site just before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Army is now asking any individuals who captured photos or videos of the crash or its aftermath to upload them to a secure site, linked here, to assist with the investigation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our soldiers, their families and friends,” said Col. Amanda Azubuike, director of public affairs, Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, in a statement. “Our top priority is the health of our soldiers and ensuring that their family members are provided the support they need.”

She said the families of the soldiers involved in the crash had asked for privacy as the investigation continues.

This is the second major Black Hawk incident this year. On Jan. 31, four soldiers were injured, three critically, when a Black Hawk crashed and then caught fire during a training operation at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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Training Accident Leaves 15 US Marines Injured at Camp Pendleton

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A total of 15 US Marines were injured Wednesday during a training exercise that involved an amphibious landing vehicle at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, according to the Marine Corps.

Though the vehicle was engulfed in flames, all of the Marines involved were able to escape, the marines said in a statement. The landing-accident took place at approximately 9:33 a.m. local time when troops were in the middle of a scheduled battalion training.

The Marines are currently being treated for injuries.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines and their families as they receive medical care,” the statement added.

This is the latest in a string of accidents for the US military. Back in July the US Marine Corps canceled all flights for the KC-130T Hercules Transport planes after a crash killed one sailor and 15 Marines in Mississippi.

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Combat vets say tattoo policy is big barrier to re-enlistment to Marine Corps

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Time may be the biggest factor causing combat veterans to leave the Marine Corps, but there’s another reason that should not be underestimated, some vets say: the Corps’ tattoo policy. Jeff Schogol wrote an article on Marine Corps which describes problems that combat vets have with Marine Corps tattoo policy.

Brian Davenport was barred from re-enlistment in 2015 because two of his tattoos were so close together that they were considered to be one tattoo that was too big under the Marine Corps’ tattoo policy at the time, he said. He and other Marines have a similar story: When the Marine Corps stopped deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in large numbers, tattoos became a career killer for them, even if they had ­combat experience.

“As soon as we got back from Afghanistan and we found out we weren’t going to be going back, everything just did a complete 180,” Davenport told Marine Corps Times. “It was more stressing the little things: your uniform, appearances.”

Where have all the combat vets gone?

The Marine Corps is facing a drain of battle-tested Marines. Davenport deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 as a machine gunner, but he felt the Marine Corps did not value his combat experience after he returned, he said.

“You had leaders saying, ‘We don’t care that you’re a combat veteran,’” he said. “I had a second lieutenant, he was brand new and he’s like: ‘No one cares about Afghanistan. That’s over. We’re moving on. There’s a new Marine Corps.’”

Davenport’s return from Afghanistan coincided with the Marine Corps’ drawdown from 202,000 to 182,000 ­active-duty Marines that was driven by cuts to defense spending. On the day that Davenport found out that he could not re-enlist because of his tattoos, he went straight to an Army ­recruiter, who was able to get him into the Army two days after he left the Corps, he said.

During the drawdown from 202,000 Marines a few years ago, the Corps ratcheted up its enforcement of tattoo policies. Starting in 2014, Marines were required to submit photographs of their tattoos for re-enlistment.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. ­Robert Neller has explained the reason for the Corps’ tattoo policy: “We are not in a rock and roll band. We are ­Marines. We have a brand. People expect a ­certain thing from us,” he told Marine Corps Times in February 2016.

Marine veterans often look to get jobs as police officers, but local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are very strict on whether applicants can have visible tattoos, Neller added.

In June 2016, the Marine Corps announced an updated tattoo policy, which allows visible tattoos to extend further on Marines’ upper arms and thighs. Although some Marines would have ­preferred a more lax policy, Neller certainly listened to their opinions on the matter, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green said at the time.

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