PHOENIX — The remains of a Marine from Arizona have been returned following an aircraft mishap in Japan in December 2018 that caused his death.
Staff Sgt. Maximo A. Flores, a 27-year-old from Surprise, was among five service members killed when a refueling plane collided with a fighter jet off the Japanese Coast last year.
A marine salvage effort was conducted at the end of May into the beginning of June, during which crews recovered the bodies of Staff Sgt. Flores, as well as Lt. Col. Kevin R. Herrmann and Maj. James M. Brophy from North Carolina and New York.
Flores' remains were returned to Phoenix Sky Harbor Friday afternoon, with his funeral planned for Saturday.
"Staff Sgt. Maximo Flores always wanted to serve his country as a United States Marine, eventually enlisting in 2009. His passionate and dedicated service was recognized with a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with one bronze star," Congresswoman Debbie Lesko said after the incident.
"Welcome home. I'm here. I can spend the night at the cemetery with you now," said Flores's father.
Governor Doug Ducey ordered flags be lowered to half-staff on December 12, 2018, to honor the Marine's life and service. Ducey also said flags will be lowered on the day of his funeral.
Officials say the cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Flores burial is Saturday at 9am, and is open to the public. Services will be held at SunWest Funeral Home in El Mirage.