A Marine pilot killed last week when his F/A-18D Hornet fighter jet crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar has been identified, official said.
Maj. Andrew Mettler was taking part in a routine training exercise as part of the Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 when his plane went down late Thursday east of the air station, the U.S. Marine Corps said in a statement. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Mettler was stationed out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, the Marines said, and was a Georgia native.
Mettler joined the Marines in 2007 and received many awards over his career, including Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Korea Defense Service Medal.
“I am deeply saddened to share the loss of Maj. Andrew ‘Simple Jack’ Mettler, a fellow Marine aviator who was honing his craft as a Hornet pilot and leader in his squadron, the Fighting Bengals,” 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General Maj. Gen. Scott Benedict said in a statement.
Benedict flew with Mettler in a F/A-18D Hornet fighter jet and “will always remember his skill piloting the Hornet and his wry smile,” he said.
“It is with great humility,” Benedict said in his statement, “that I offer my deepest condolences to the family, loved ones, and friends of Maj. Andrew Mettler. You remain at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers”
Mettler was the only person in the jet. San Diego Fire-Rescue Department crews responded to the crash site and sent a helicopter to assist in the search. ABC News reported that scanner traffic indicated Mettler ejected before the jet crashed.
The Marines said Mettler served as a pilot with VMFA(AW)-224, Marine Aircraft Group 31.
“As 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing ,” Benedict said, “we mourn the loss of one of our brothers who was devoted to the Marine Corps mission, and it is our duty to continue forward in a manner that would reflect his devotion. Maj. Mettler’s legacy will remain with every Marine, Sailor and civilian that he served with, and we have the obligation to continue to uphold the values that he stood for.”