Six missing after U.S. military aircraft collide off Japan

WASHINGTON/TOKYO, Dec 5 -- Six U.S. Marines were missing following a still-unexplained mishap off the coast of Japan on Thursday involving two U.S. Marine Corps aircraft, which may have collided mid-air during a refueling exercise gone wrong, U.S. officials said.

Japan's defense ministry said that its maritime forces had so far rescued one of the seven Marines who were aboard the two aircraft at the time of the incident. Search and rescue efforts were ongoing, U.S. and Japanese officials said.

The rescued person had been on the F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, and was a in stable condition at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told a news conference.

"The incident is regrettable, but our focus at the moment is on search and rescue," he said. "Japan will respond appropriately once the details of the incident are uncovered."

The Marine Corps said in a statement that the incident occurred around 2 a.m. local time in Japan on Thursday (1700 GMT Wednesday) about 200 miles (322 km) off the Japanese coast.

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The Marines throughout history

The Marine Corps band called 'The Presidents Own' was created in 1798. Here they are in 1893.

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The Marines pose for a photo in Egypt in 1907.

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Marines pose with a German trench mortar in 1918.

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Marines duing WWI circa 1918. 

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Marines run a drill during combat training in Germany, 1918. 

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Grumman FF-2, circa 1930

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Pearl Harbor survivor Technical Sergeant Anglin on December 8th 1941.

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Marines patiently wait to be called for 'chow time' 1943.

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Marines admire a photo of a pin-up girl in 1943 while in Japan. 

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James Wrobel, Designer of VMF-312 Insignia, circa 1943

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Marines arrive on the Japanese island Saipan. 1944 WWII

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Marines stationed in Bougainville.

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Marines wait for letters from home to be distributed. 

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Pictured here : 'Code Talkers'  1943 were a group a Native American Marines would used their native language to relay coded messages. 

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 Marines fire a 155mm Howitzer Iwo Jima.

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A Navy Corpsman administers blood plasma to a Marine. 1944

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Marines are surrounded by bullet shells at  the base of Mount Suribachi.

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Marines raise the American flag in Iwo Jima. 1945

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Marines celebrate the end of WWII. 1945

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Korean War 1950. 

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Female Marines began training in Parris Island, South Carolina, 1949.

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Marines line up to receive items from home. Usually soda, candy and cigarettes. 

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A welcome banner can be seen here in Vietnam welcoming the Marines in Danang in 1965. 

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A Marine rests while he can in Vietnam. 1968. 

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Moment of Peace: Corporal Larry G. Nabb (Brush, Colorado) finds a moment of peace in front of a gaily decorated Christmas tree at Quang Tri Combat Base. Nabb is serving as a truck driver with 3d Marine Division’s Headquarters Battalion, and is one of thousands of Marines celebrating their Christmas in Vietnam 

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Private First Class Ronald Duplantis prepares a 122mm enemy field weapon for shipment.

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Marines carry supplies from a cargo plane to a nearby base. 1969.

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Marines register to vote for the 1969 presidential election.

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David Gurfein sits next to a Christmas tree in Saudi Arabia while serving during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

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Marines prepare to enter Saddam Husseins palace in 2003.

Photo Credit: Lance Corporal Kevin Quihuis Jr./U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corp Assaultman Kirk Dalrymple watches as a statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad in this April 9, 2003 file photo. U.S. troops pulled down a 20-foot (six-metre) high statue of President Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad and Iraqis danced on it in contempt for the man who ruled them with an iron grip for 24 years. In scenes reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Iraqis earlier took a sledgehammer to the marble plinth under the statue of Saddam. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic/Files (IRAQ - Tags: TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY CONFLICT) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE IS PART OF PACKAGE '30 YEARS OF REUTERS PICTURES' TO FIND ALL 56 IMAGES SEARCH '30 YEARS'

Marines can be seen fighting in Fallujah in 2004.

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'Darkhorse' Marines lost the most men in Afghanistan over any other Marine unit. They can be seen here in 2010.

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Cpl. Chris Lawler observes a  F/A-18C Hornet with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 approach during Exercise Pitch Black 2016 on Aug. 9, 2016.

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Around 20,000 recruits are trained in Parris Island every year. 

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Sgt. Justin Glenn Burnside motivates a recruit with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion 

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Marines take their oath at the 2012 U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2012 graduation.

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The F/A-18 and the KC-130 Hercules refueling aircraft had launched from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and were conducting regular training when there was a "mishap," the Marine Corps said.

The Marine Corps did not elaborate on the nature of the incident. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it occurred during a refueling exercise.

Officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity were unsure precisely how the mishap occurred but none suspected foul play. An investigation has begun.

The Marine Corps suggested Japanese search and rescue aircraft had taken the lead on the rescue mission.

"We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation," it said. (Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington and Kaori Kaneko and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Peter Cooney and Rosalba O'Brien)

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