T6-B Texan II

A student pilot taxis a T6-B Texan II at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Florida. A Navy Texan II like this one, which was flown out of Whiting, crashed into a house in Alabama Friday afternoon, killing both service members aboard, Navy officials say. 

NAS WHITING FIELD, Fla. — The two military personnel killed in Friday's crash of a T-6B Texan II training airplane from Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton have been identified as U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett, 24, of Weddington, North Carolina, and Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross, 30, of Wixom, Michigan.

Garrett was a 2019 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and Ross was commissioned as a Navy officer in 2012. Both women were part of the VT-2 Doerbirds, a training squadron for the turboprop T-6B at Naval Air Station Whiting Field. Garrett was a student with the squadron, while Ross was serving as an instructor. They were on a routine training mission when the crash occurred, according to the Navy.

The turboprop trainer airplane went down about 5 p.m. Friday, crashing into a residential area in Magnolia Springs, Alabama, a small town near Foley, Alabama, about 50 miles southwest of NAS Whiting Field.

The crash set one house and two cars ablaze, but there were no casualties on the ground, according to Navy and local civilian authorities. According to an unconfirmed report from Air Force Forum, a military news and commentary website, the aircraft went into a tailspin before crashing.

U.S. Navy Commander Wes Barnes, commander of the VT-2 squadron, announced the deaths to the squadron in a Sunday post on the unit's Facebook page.

"Our sincerest condolences and prayers go out to the family members who have suffered this tremendous loss," Barnes wrote. "I cannot express the devastation we all feel at this time."

The commander went on to offer personal thanks for "all of the support we have received from family, friends and colleagues from all over."

"I encourage everyone to take care of each other and the families directly affected by this tragedy as we navigate through the healing process," Barnes also said via Facebook.

The office of the commander of Naval Air Forces also commented on the passing of the two aviators, saying in a news release, "Their spirit, friendship, and devotion to their country will not be forgotten."

According to media reports quoting a message to Coast Guard cadets and parents from Superintendent Rear Adm. Bill Kelly, Garrett was a regimental activities officer and a middle-distance runner on the track and field team during her time at the academy. She was a marine and environmental sciences major, and made the athletic director's and commandant of cadet's lists every semester, Kelly said, as reported at Military.com.

Ross was commissioned through the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps at the University of Michigan, and subsequently was a student with NAS Whiting Field's Training Wing Five. She also had been a student at Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, according to a Navy biography.

Also according to the Navy, Ross had been a lieutenant since May 2016, and had been assigned to the Doerbirds at NAS Whiting Field since February 2018.

Before that, Ross has served with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 in Norfolk, Virginia, and as a student at the Center for Security Forces Detachment Kittery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The Navy, with the assistance of local authorities, is continuing to investigate the crash.

On Saturday, Navy officials asked anyone who has video or photographs of the crash, or who has or might have come across debris that could be from the crash, to contact them at 864-608-0729. Anyone who comes across potential crash debris should not touch them, the Navy said in announcing its search for evidence.

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