One of the three Marines lost at sea during a training exercise Saturday off the coast of Australia is Ruben Velasco, 19, of La Puente, according to online postings by his stepfather.
“We are all in disbelief and cannot fathom the loss of our son,” wrote Ray Calzada on his Facebook page.
Calzada described the uniformed personnel coming to the family’s home “to inform us that the search and rescue…has been called off and is now considered a recovery.”
The USMC Public Affairs office indicated Monday that it expected to release identification of the casualties within 24 hours.
Calzada’s posting indicated that Velasco was aboard the Marine Osprey aircraft that was attempting to land on the back of a warship, but instead tumbled into the seas. Rescuers were able to save 23 others.
Velasco graduated from West Covina High School last year, according to Principal Stephen Glass. He said teachers and coaches described Velasco as hard working, well-liked, ambitious and athletic, playing four years of football. He planned to work in public safety, in law enforcement or fire service, after college, but his first goal was a tour of duty in the Marine Corps.
A photograph of Velasco in his graduation cap and gown with mother Gemily Calzada appears on her Facebook page.
“Richard Velasco, Ruben’s father, is equally devestated,” Ray Calzada wrote.
When contacted, members of the Velasco and Calzada familes indicated they are grieving and not ready to speak of their loss.
A Go Fund Me posting appeared briefly before being removed, after the Calzadas learned memorial costs would be covered fully, Ray Calzada explained in a Facebook posting Monday afternoon.
In Maine, the family of Marine aviator Ben Cross has come forward to identify him as one of three who could not be rescued.
“It would take forever to describe the love that we had–and still have–for him,” said his mother Valerie Cross.