Detroit Marine killed in crash 'a loud blast of fun'

Detroit News staff and wire reports, The Detroit News

A Detroit native was among 16 service men and women killed Monday in the crash of a Marine Corps transport plane in Mississippi.

Julian Kevianne

Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed Julian Kevianne’s death in a statement Wednesday.

“Michigan is grieving with the nation over the terrible tragedy that claimed the lives of 16 Marines, including Detroit native Julian Kevianne,” Snyder said.

“The members of our country's military have made an incredible commitment to our nation, and each and every one of them gives us a reason to be proud. Let us come together as a state and a nation during this difficult time to support and honor our military who have done so much for us and their families as they mourn their losses."

Kevianne attended Michigan Technological University and went to Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, according to his Facebook page.

John Allen, 29, of Detroit, one of Kevianne's cousins, told The News Wednesday said Kevianne's death has devastated the family and the Marine's friends.

"He was a great brother, son and friend," Allen said. "And I know he would of been a great father to his few-month-old child. It saddens me and my family he's gone.

"He had so much to live for," he said. "I'll remember the fun times we had growing up since that's all I have now."

Allen said through Facebook messages to The Detroit News that Kevianne was the quiet type when they were growing up together.

"If he didn't know you, he didn't talk," Allen said. "But once he was comfortable with you, he was a loud blast of fun." 

He and Kevianne were able to stay in touch for much of their childhood, but it became harder to connect when Kevianne joined the Marines, moved and started his own family, Allen said. He said he last time he saw Kevianne was in 2009.

"I wish I had the opportunity to catch up and be like we were as kids," he said.

Allen also said when they were kids, his cousin talked about joining the military when he grew up.

"I'm not sure who or what influenced him," he said.

John Robinson, 67, a neighbor of Carlo Kevianne, Julian's brother, called the Marine's death a tragedy.

Robinson's home is three doors down from the Plainview Avenue house near Evergreen and Grand River on Detroit's west side where Carlo Kevianne lives. 

"The only thing I can say is it's a terrible tragedy," Robinson said Wednesday as he stood in front of his home. "I'm very sorry for their loss."

He said he knew Carlo Kevianne only in passing and didn't know Julian Kevianne. Sill, he said he was saddened to hear of the marine's death.

Robinson said he himself is a Vietnam vet who served in the Navy.

"I have feelings for anyone who's in the military and puts themselves in danger for other people," he said. "I'm very sorry this happened."

Military officials continued to withhold the names of the dead Wednesday, saying they were notifying family members.

Monday’s 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.

Debris from the crash was scattered for miles across the flat countryside of the Mississippi Delta, as federal and local officials combed soybean fields for clues regarding the crash, which killed the 15 Marines and a Navy sailor.

 

Tina Albo (left),with her sons Julian Kevianne (center) and Carlo Kevianne and her daughter Tiffany Terry (front right), Julie Gray (front left) and an unidentified woman (far right).

Six of the Marines and the sailor were from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and were headed for pre-deployment training in Yuma, Arizona, the Marine Corps said Tuesday.

Several bouquets were left at the main gate of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, where the plane was based. Officials said some of those killed were from the base, but Stewart was closed to reporters and did not issue a statement.

“We’re feeling the pain that everybody else is,” Robert Brush said after dropping off three pots of red, white and blue petunias. He works for a landscaping company that serves the base.

Witnesses said they heard low, rumbling explosions when the plane was still high in the sky Monday, saw the aircraft spiraling toward the flat, green landscape and spotted an apparently empty parachute floating toward the earth.

The crash happened outside the small town of Itta Bena about 85 miles north of the state capital of Jackson. Bodies were found more than a mile from the plane.

The Marine Corps said the cause was under investigation and offered no information on whether the plane issued a distress call.

A Marine general says the plane was at cruise altitude when the problem developed.

Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James, commanding general, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Forces Reserve, said, “Indications are that something went wrong at cruise altitude.”

With the investigation underway, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant warned people not to remove debris from the area and said that anyone taking something could be prosecuted.

Bryant, in statements Tuesday on Twitter, said law enforcement authorities have received reports that items are being taken from the crash site.

Sheriff’s deputies and state troopers have been trying to control access to sites, but the broad area and number of roads makes that difficult. Bryant asked people to stay away and turn debris over to authorities.

FBI agents joined military investigators, though Marine Maj. Andrew Aranda told reporters no foul play was suspected.

“They are looking at the debris and will be collecting information off of that to figure out what happened,” Aranda said. The county coroner, meanwhile, ferried more body bags into fields to remove remains.

Mississippi’s public safety commissioner says authorities are pursuing at least one criminal investigation against someone for removing debris from a crashed Marine Corps plane.

The KC-130 is used to refuel aircraft in flight and transport cargo and troops.

Will Nobile, a catfish farmer, was inside his office Monday afternoon when he heard an unusually loud rumble in the sky.

“It sounded like a big thunderstorm,” Nobile said. “Not one big explosion, but a couple of second-long explosions. … A long, steady rumble is what it was.”

He walked outside to see what was making the noise in the cloudless afternoon and saw a “gray streak” disappear behind trees, and then black smoke rising.

Andy Jones said he was working on his family’s catfish farm just before 4 p.m. when he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane spiraling downward with one engine smoking.

“You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around,” he said. “It was spinning down.”

 

In this July 10, 2017, frame from video, smoke and flames rise from a military plane that crashed in a farm field, in Itta Bena, Miss., killing several.

Jones said that by the time he and others reached the crash site, fires were burning too intensely to approach the wreckage. The force of the crash nearly flattened the plane, Jones said.

“Beans are about waist-high, and there wasn’t much sticking out above the beans,” he said.

Jones said a man borrowed his cellphone to report to authorities that there were bodies across a highway, more than a mile away.

Nobile said he drove to the site and as he and others stood by a highway, they saw an open parachute wafting down from the sky: “It didn’t look like anybody was in it.” Another catfish farmer found an empty, open parachute later near a fish pond, Nobile said.

Jones said firefighters tried to put out the blaze but were forced back by an explosion. The Marines said the plane was carrying personal weapons and small-arms ammunition — equipment that may have contributed to the explosion and the popping that could be heard as the wreckage burned.

The Associated Press contributed.