Crew help­less to avert crash that killed Ma­rine, re­port says

Tri-City Herald - - Front Page - BY AN­NETTE CARY [email protected]­i­ty­her­

The cause of a mil­i­tary cargo plane crash that killed a Richland Ma­rine in 2017 has been traced back to a cor­roded pro­pel­ler, ac­cord­ing to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port.

Ma­rine Sgt. Di­et­rich Sch­mie­man died in the crash in Mis­sis­sippi on July 10, 2017. He was a mem­ber of the elite Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand, serv­ing in the 2nd Ma­rine Raider Bat­tal­ion in Camp Le­Je­une, N.C.

The West Richland Post Of- fice is pro­posed to be named for him.

Mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­cluded that cor­ro­sion was not re­moved as it should have been from a pro­pel­ler blade dur­ing an over­haul in 2011.

A crack de­vel­oped in the cor­roded blade, and the blade broke off as the plane was fly­ing at 20,000 feet.

The blade sliced through the side of the main body of the Ma­rine Corps KC-130T, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found.

It quickly led to a se­ries of cat­a­strophic struc­tural and me­chan­i­cal fail­ures, the re­port said. The plane then broke into three pieces.

“Nei­ther the air­crew nor any­one aboard the KC-130T could have pre­vented or al­tered the ul­ti­mate out­come af­ter such a fail­ure,” said Ma­rine Brigadier Gen. Bradley S. James, com­man­der of the 4th Ma­rine Air­craft Wing, in his com­ments on the re­port.

None of the 16 aboard the plan — 15 Marines and a sailor — sur­vived.

“What we do as an in­sti­tu­tion is in­her­ently dan­ger­ous,” James said in his com­ments. “Un­der­stand­ing that fact does not lessen the im­pact on all of us when we have in­juries or loss of life. These won­der­ful Marines and sailor will not be for­got­ten.”

Brigadier Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, Ma­rine Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions com­man­der, said the ab­sence of the

seven raiders, in­clud­ing Sch­mie­man, “is felt through­out this en­tire com­mand on a daily ba­sis.”

Sch­mie­man was a grad­u­ate of Han­ford High School, who had com­pleted two years of col­lage through the Run­ning Start pro­gram, when he de­cided to join the Marines.

He was on board the doomed cargo plane en route to train­ing, af­ter his com­man­der had picked him for the as­sign­ment be­cause of his in­tel­li­gence and de­pend­abil­ity.

His fa­ther, Eric Sch­mie­man of Richland, told the Her­ald shortly af­ter his son’s death that Di­et­rich had re­cently told him that all he wanted to be was what he was then — a crit­i­cal skills oper­a­tor in spe­cial op­er­a­tions, the first guy in the fight.

He served two over­seas de­ploy­ments dur­ing Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom in Afghanistan and re­ceived 14 awards and dec­o­ra­tions dur­ing his time in ser­vice, in­clud­ing sev­eral achieve­ment medals, Good Con­duct Medals and the Global War on Ter­ror­ism Ser­vice Medal.

He loved his home­town and the Pa­cific North­west, said his fa­ther and mother, Su­san Sch­mie­man. One of his many tat­toos said “Made in the Pa­cific North­west.”

Rep. Dan Ne­w­house, R-Wash., with the sup­port of Wash­ing­ton state’s Demo­cratic Sens. Patty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell, has suc­ceeded in get­ting a bill passed by both houses of Congress to name the West Richland Post Of­fice at 4891 W. Van Giesen St. for Sgt. Sch­mie­man.

The bill is wait­ing for a sig­na­ture from Pres­i­dent Trump.

Di­et­rich Sch­mie­man

Tri-City Her­ald file

Su­san and Eric Sch­mie­man hold the 2010 Ma­rine boot camp grad­u­a­tion por­trait of their son, Di­et­rich, while stand­ing in front of their Richland home. The Han­ford High grad­u­ate was one of 16 peo­ple to die in a mil­i­tary plane crash in Mis­sis­sippi.

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