US Marine colleagues of Major Taj Sareen who died after his F-18 crashed in Redmere, Cambridgeshire, leave Suffolk on solemn journey back to MCAS Mirimar, California

One of the F-18 aircraft at Lakenheath. Credit: Mark Rourke/Pixelsnipers

One of the F-18 aircraft at Lakenheath. Credit: Mark Rourke/Pixelsnipers - Credit: Archant

The colleagues of a US Marine Corps pilot, who died after his F-18 crashed on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border, set off for home in California yesterday.

CAPT Taj "Cabbie" Sareen of VMFA-232 "Red Devils" from MCAS Miramar stands next to his F/A-18 C Horn

CAPT Taj "Cabbie" Sareen of VMFA-232 "Red Devils" from MCAS Miramar stands next to his F/A-18 C Hornet at the 2015 NAF El Centro Airshow. Picture: Norman A. Graf - Credit: Norman A. Graf

The members of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, left on their solemn journey at 8.30am, seven days after Major Taj Sareen died.

The pilot of 11 years experience in the Marines died at the scene, despite witnesses seeing him eject from the US Navy jet, which crashed in a “fireball” on a farm in Redmere, near Shippea Hill, at 10.30am on October 21.

Major Sareen, father to a 14-month-old daughter Jade, was flying one of six F-18s who took off from RAF Lakenheath that morning, crashing just five miles away.

Witnesses have labelled the pilot a “hero”, saying appeared to be trying to miss nearby houses and farm buildings, with one saying he may have survived if he ejected earlier. Two farmers were working just 200m from the crash site.

Shippea Hill crash site updates images.

Shippea Hill crash site updates images. - Credit: Gregg Brown.


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Major Sareen’s squadron were on their way home to Marine Corps Air Station Mirimar after completing a six-month tour in the Middle East, where US forces are currently launching strikes against the so called Islamic State terrorists (ISIS).

According to the US Air Force 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, the remaining F/A-18 Hornets (F-18s) in the UK took off from both RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and from Lakenheath yesterday morning.

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An appeal on the website GoFundMe, set up by Major Sareen’s friend Captain Annie Driscoll, has now raised around £36,000 for the pilot’s daughter Jade.

Hundreds of people from both sides of the Atlantic have donated to the fund, which will be put in trust for Jade. They are hoping to raise £65,000 ($100,000).

Major Sareen’s remains have already been repatriated to the US, while the crash investigators from the 48th Fighter Wing are expected to remain on the site for one to two weeks.

To read tributes to the pilot or to donate to the appeal, visit www.gofundme.com/inmemoryoftaj

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