ITTA BENA, Miss.— A Jersey Shore Marine died in the crash of a refueling jet that killed 16, according to Memphis TV station WREG.

Dan Baldassare, of Colts Neck, was on board the KC-135 that crashed in a soybean field on Monday 85 miles north of Jackson, Mississippi.

Smoke and flames rise into the air after a military transport airplane crashed in a field near Itta Bena, Miss.
Smoke and flames rise into the air after a military transport airplane crashed in a field near Itta Bena, Miss. (Jimmy Taylor via AP)

Baldassare's unit was based at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., where Several bouquets were left at the main gate in honor of those who died.

Family told the station Baldassare was 20 and had played football for Colts Neck High School. According to his Facebook page, he also had worked at Wawa.

"Everyone at the Freehold Regional High School District is saddened to hear of this tragic loss. We are holding his family and friends in our thoughts at this difficult time," district spokeswoman Rebecca Policastro told New Jersey 101.5.

Baldassare’s head coach when he was at Colts Neck, Greg LaCava, said his death was "tragic and tremendously saddening."

"Although Dan was not a starter, he embodied all the characteristics of our program. He was selfless, respectful and kind. He worked hard and always tried to become a better football player, but more importantly a better person. His dedication to this great country and willingness to sacrifice for others is evident in his strong desire to be a member of the United States military. We need more Dan Baldassares in this world. He will be missed dearly. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and all those whose lives he touched.”


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

The Marine Corps said the cause was under investigation and offered no information on whether the plane issued a distress call. The names of the victims have not yet been released by the Marine Corps.

This is a breaking story. Check back for additional details.

Bob Badders of the Shore Sports Network and The Associated Press contributed to this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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