A Dallas family is grieving the loss of a Marine who was among the 16 service members killed in a plane crash Monday in Mississippi.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Michael Snowden, 31, was a flight engineer on the KC-130 aircraft that went down near in a soybean field about 85 miles north of Jackson.
Witnesses said they heard low, rumbling explosions when the plane was still high in the sky and then saw the aircraft cork-screwing toward the flat, green landscape with one engine smoking.
Fifteen Marines and a Navy sailor were on board. They were on their way to Arizona for training, according to the U.S. military.
Snowden is a 2004 graduate of Highland Park High School and has family in both Dallas and Atlanta. He would have turned 32 years old on July 22, his family said.
He was stationed in New York.
A Marine Corps spokesperson said the tanker "experienced a mishap" but has not explained what happened. The cause of the crash has not been determined.
This 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.
In a statement Wednesday, Snowden's family said:
"Words cannot adequately express the sadness and pain that have descended upon our family after the loss of our son and brother. He was a dedicated Marine, a steadfast friend, and an honorable man.
"Joshua was a positive force in the life of everyone he met. He loved God, his country, his family, and his friends. His enthusiasm for Texas was unmatched.
"We grieve for Joshua and for the fifteen others who leave behind enormous voids in the hearts of their loved ones. To borrow the words of one of his friends, 'Heaven has gained one hell of an angel.'"