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Marines Suspend Harrier Missions

February 5, 2001

CHERRY POINT, N.C. (AP) _ The Marine Corps on Sunday suspended all Harrier jet missions at Cherry Point Air Station pending an investigation into a crash that killed two aviators.

The suspension will last until the release of preliminary findings in the investigation of Saturday’s crash, said 1st Lt. John Caldwell, spokesman at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station.

``This is a precautionary move to ensure the safety of all the other pilots at the Second Marine Aircraft Wing that fly the Harrier,″ Caldwell said.

Capt. Jason K. Meiners, of Avon Lake, Ohio, was killed in the crash, officials said. He was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 203. The name of the other aviator is being withheld pending notification of his family.

The jump-jet crashed as it neared touchdown on a base runway, Caldwell said. Jump-jet technology allows the Harrier to take off and land vertically; it redirects its thrust to fly.

The Cherry Point station is home to one Harrier training squadron and three squadrons that are deployed on missions accompanying Marines from nearby Camp Lejeune. Cherry Point also is home to four squadrons of radar-jamming Prowler aircraft, Caldwell said.

In 1999 and 2000, the Marines temporarily grounded their Harrier jets, as well as other aircraft, due to safety concerns after two major crashes. An MV-22 Osprey crash in Arizona in April killed 19 Marines, and a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed off the coast of San Diego in December 1999, killing six Marines and one sailor.

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