The commanding officer of one of Okinawa Prefecture’s two MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey squadrons has been fired, nearly six months after a crash involving the aircraft killed three U.S. Marines.
Marine Lt. Col. Bryan Swenson was fired as head of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, based at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, on Jan. 26 by Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, officials said in a statement.
The statement cited “a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his command” as the reason for his removal but gave no other details. It said Swenson had been replaced on an interim basis by Maj. Christopher Denver, the squadron’s executive officer. The news was first reported by Marine Corps Times.
Swenson’s firing came months after a deadly accident in August involving an MV-22 Osprey, attached to the squadron Swenson commanded, crashed off the coast of Australia following takeoff from the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard. The cause of that tragic crash has yet to be made public but the firing could mean the investigation is near completion.
A spate of accidents involving U.S. military aircraft stationed in Okinawa, including the December 2016 ditching of an MV-22 off the coast, have stoked anger among the local population and concern with the Japanese government.
A total of 24 MV-22s are deployed at the Futenma base despite local concerns over their checkered safety record.