From a young age, Marine Corps Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard was fascinated by aviation.
As a student at Miramar High School, Resilard was a member of the Broward school’s Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary unit for the Air Force. Then 15 and a sophomore, he was one of four students tasked with helping restore a vintage, four-engine Eastern Airlines DC-7B.
“You feel like you’re working on a part of history,” Resilard told the Miami Herald at the time.
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Resilard, 28, grew up to become an F/A-18 pilot with the Marines.
He was one of seven Marines who were involved in a crash between two U.S. planes off Japan’s coast about 2 a.m. local time Thursday (noon Wednesday EST), according to the Marines.
The two planes — a KC-130 Hercules and F/A-18 Hornet — collided about 200 miles off the coast of Japan during an aerial refueling that was part of routine training, according to the Marines. The KC-130 is used mainly for airborne refueling.
Resilard was the pilot flying the Hornet. He and another Marine were initially rescued at sea off the coast of the Japanese city Kochi on Thursday. They were transported to a local hospital, where Resilard died, according to a report from the U.S. Naval Institute. The other crewman, who has not been identified, was in fair condition.
Five other Marines remain missing; rescuers are still searching for them.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
“The Bats are deeply saddened by the loss of Captain Jahmar Resilard,” the Marines’ III Marine Expeditionary Force team posted on Facebook.
“He was an effective and dedicated leader who cared for his Marines and fellow fighter pilots with passion,” Lt. Col. James Compton, commanding officer of Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, posted. “His warm and charismatic nature bound us together and we will miss him terribly. We honor his service and his contribution to the Marine Corps and our great nation.”
Resilard was decorated with the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal, the Marines said.
On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott ordered the lowering of flags “when appropriate,” according to CBS’ Action News Jax. Flags nationwide are already lowered to honor the passing of U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who was buried in Texas on Thursday, a day after his state funeral in Washington. Details on the flags’ lowering will be issued in the next few days.
Scott also released a statement that said, in part, “Ann and I are heartbroken to learn of the death of Floridian and U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jahmar Resilard. As an F/A-18 fighter pilot in the Marine All Weather Attack Squadron 242 stationed on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi, Japan, Capt. Resilard defended the freedom and democracy of not only the United States but of families in nations across the globe.
“The loss of Capt. Resilard is a somber reminder of the danger our servicemen and women both home and abroad place themselves in every day to keep us safe. The entire State of Florida joins Capt. Resilard’s family in honoring his bravery and legacy of service.”
President Donald Trump also commented Thursday, via Twitter, offering “thoughts and prayers” and support for the U.S. Marines and U.S. Forces Japan. “Whatever you need, we are here for you.”
Resilard’s cousin, Brandon Alexander, told NBC News that Resilard had two fascinations: flying as a pilot or becoming a crime-fighting superhero.
“It was between that and being Batman — or he wanted to do both,” Alexander said.