Marine Killed in Australia Training Crash Aspired to Work in Public Safety

Pfc. Ruben Velasco, 19, was one of three Marines declared dead after a search off the coast of Australia

One of the three Marines lost at sea during a training exercise Saturday off the coast of Australia was 19-year-old Pfc. Ruben P. Velasco from La Puente.

The Department of Defense confirmed the identities of the Marines in a statement issued Tuesday. Velasco was assigned to Battery G, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. His decorations included the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

"We are all in disbelief and cannot fathom the loss of our son," wrote Ray Calzada on his Facebook page.

Calzada described the uniformed personnel coming to the family's home "to inform us that the search and rescue...has been called off and is now considered a recovery."

Calzada's posting indicated that Velasco was aboard the Marine Osprey aircraft that was attempting to land on the back of a warship, but instead tumbled into the seas. Rescuers were able to save 23 others.

Velasco graduated from West Covina High School last year, according to Principal Stephen Glass. He said teachers and coaches described Velasco as hard working, well-liked, ambitious and athletic, playing four years of football. He planned to work in public safety, in law enforcement or fire service, after college, but his first goal was a tour of duty in the Marine Corps.

A photograph of Velasco in his graduation cap and gown with mother Gemily Calzada appears on her Facebook page.

"Richard Velasco, Ruben's father, is equally devestated," Ray Calzada wrote.

When contacted, members of the Velasco and Calzada familes indicated they are grieving and not ready to speak of their loss.

A Go Fund Me posting appeared briefly before being removed, after the Calzadas learned memorial costs would be covered fully, Ray Calzada explained in a Facebook posting Monday afternoon. 

In Maine, the family of Marine aviator Ben Cross has come forward to identify him as one of three who could not be rescued. He was 26.

"It would take forever to describe the love that we had--and still have--for him," said his mother Valerie Cross.

On Tuesday, the Department of Defense identified the third Marine as Cpl. Nathaniel F. Ordway, 21, of Sedgwick, Kansas.

"The loss of every Marine is felt across our entire Marine Corps family. To the families of the brave Marines we lost -- there is no way for us to understand what you are going through," said Marine Corps Col. Tye R. Wallace, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. "What we do know is that your Marines left a lasting impression on the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps, and the world. They will live on forever in our thoughts and our hearts. You will always be a part of the Marine Corps family, and you will remain in our prayers."

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