US Marine First Casualty in Fight Against ISIS

Corporal Jordan Spears died in a V-22 accident in operations against the Islamic State.

Corporal Jordan Spears died in a V-22 accident in operations against the Islamic State.

Reuters (“Marine is first U.S. death in operations against Islamic State“):

A U.S. Marine who went into the sea from a V-22 Osprey during a flight mishap over the northern Gulf this week was the first American killed in U.S. military operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Corporal Jordan Spears, 21, of Memphis, Indiana, was a crewman aboard a V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft flying off the USS Makin Island and went into the sea when the aircraft lost power shortly after takeoff, the Navy said on Friday.

The V-22 descended to the surface of the ocean during the mishap on Wednesday. Spears and a second air crewmen went into the water when it appeared the tilt-rotor aircraft was about to crash, but the two pilots were able to regain control of the craft and landed it safely back on board the Makin Island.

One air crewman was recovered and was in stable condition aboard the Makin Island. A search and rescue operation for the missing crewman was called off on Thursday and the Navy said he was presumed lost at sea.

Spears’ death is a sad reminder that, even without inserting ground combat troops, war is a dangerous business. It strikes me that his sacrifice deserves a better acknowledgment than this:

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, confirmed on Friday that the Marine’s unit had been supporting current operations in the Gulf, including the current battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“That squadron and that ship were in the Gulf supporting Central Command operations,” Kirby said, referring to the combatant command responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East region.

“Some of those operations included operations in Iraq and Syria, at least tangentially,” he said. “So there’s no question that this Marine’s death is related to the operations that are going on in some form or fashion.”

That’s a stunningly bureaucratic reaction to a young Marine’s death.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Davebo says:

    It is indeed a tragedy.

    But in a “no boots on the ground” campaign of what possible use is an Osprey?

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    The evidence is that after some early success the air war is accomplishing little if anything. Time to pack our bags and come home. This area has been a hopeless basket case for 1500 years. The only time I ever agree with Pat Buchanan was when he said they don’t hate us because of who we are but where we are. The last successful war the US fought was WWII. Every war since then has been a cluster f##k.

  3. Slugger says:

    Did anyone think that it is possible to conduct military operations and experience zero casualities? Of course the other side is going to get some of ours. I know that in the movies the good guy armed with a handgun typically is able to conquer twenty or so bad guys armed with automatic weapons, but real life does not work like that.
    If we go to war, we must be willing to accept the cost in dollars, blood, and lost opportunities. The people who tell you that “we’ll reach Paris before Christmas” or “we’ll be welcomed as liberators” are not trying to give you a clear picture. “Blood, sweat, and tears” is always the true picture which no American politician will tell you.
    I am not commenting on the wisdom of the current campaign; just on the way it has been sold.
    I’d like some leader to tell us how many American lives should be paid to get rid of ISIS.

  4. Tyrell says:

    @Ron Beasley: In World War II the US had a plan to win. That was missing in some of the other wars. Win it, and get out. Total surrender only.
    Too bad General Sherman is not still around. He would know how to handle ISIS. He’d lay a hurtin’ on them. (If my relatives would hear me say that, they would disown me completely!)

  5. bill says:

    @Tyrell: not bad but we didn’t just “get out” of germany or japan- we “occupied” and rebuilt them into major players again- just without the military.