MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) _ The surviving crewmember of a rebel supply plane shot down by Nicaraguan government forces was an ex-Marine who had been working for a Florida air freight company, relatives said today.
The Nicaraguan Defense Ministry identified the crewmember as Eugene Hafenfuf, 35. But relatives in Wisconsin said the man’s name was Eugene Hasenfus, 45, of Marinette.
There was no immediate confirmation by U.S. officials on his identification or the identities of three other people killed when the plane, believed to be a C-123 tactical transport, was shot down Sunday night.
Secretary of State George Shultz said today the plane had been hired by private citizens who had no connection to the U.S. government.
Sally Hasenfus said the crewmember was her husband, but declined to discuss how she knew it was him.
″I don’t know where he is and what he’s doing,″ she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ″I only know what I see on the TV, too, and I really don’t know any more.″
A brother, William Hasenfus, 47, of Oshkosh, said Hasenfus worked for an air freight company in Florida. He said he didn’t know the name or location of the company.
William Hasenfus said his brother began working for the company during the summer.
Eugene Hasenfus is an ex-Marine who once ran a parachuting school with him, his brother said. The two were ardent skydivers, he added.
″It’s a little ironic,″ William Hasenfus said. ″That was my parachute on his back. He just happened to ask for it when he visited a few weeks ago and that’s what saved him.″
Eugene Hasenfus was as ″load master″ in the Marines, his brother said. ″Like a crew chief, you’re basically responsible for any equipment that goes on board (an aircraft). You make sure it’s balanced properly for the center of gravity,″ he said.
The brothers grew up in rural Marinette, a city of about 12,000 on the border with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. William said he was the oldest of four children, followed by Eugene, another brother, Dennis, and a sister, Sandy.
Their father, William, still lives in the family home outside Marinette. Their mother is dead, William Hasenfus said.
He described his brother as about 6 feet tall with red hair and ″a good old American build on him.″ He said Eugene Hasenfus has been athletic in high school and still ″liked to have a beer with the boys.″