Last night, hundreds gathered outside the family home of Cpl. Spencer Collart, who died tragically during a training exercise in Australia, to honor his life.
Despite the somber atmosphere at the Maywood home of Collart’s parents, Alexia and Bart, neighbors, friends and family offered prayers, shared fond memories and joined together to sing Spencer’s favorite song, “Africa” by Toto.
The 21-year-old was one of three Marines who lost their lives after their MV-22B Osprey aircraft crashed and caught fire on Melville Island, off the coast of Australia’s Northern Territory. The incident occurred about two weeks ago during a military training exercise involving forces from the United States, Australia, the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia.
Twenty Marines survived, though three remained hospitalized as of Monday. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.
The Collarts said their son’s remains will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, although a date for the service has not yet been confirmed.
During the vigil, Collart’s youth pastor, Greg O’Dell of Cherrydale Baptist Church, said he had many passions as a young adult, including video games and lacrosse. But those were overshadowed by his desire to join the Marines, which he did on Oct. 26, 2020, at age 18, after graduating from Washington-Liberty High School.
“And he really researched it. And he said, ‘This is where I need to go. This is this is my next step,'” O’Dell said, recalling a discussion he had with Spencer his senior year.
His parents say Collart served in Pensacola, Florida, and Jacksonville, North Carolina. He became a MV-22B crew chief and was then stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Collart was promoted to the rank of Corporal earlier this year and had earned three awards: the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
O’Dell said the last “serious conversation” he had with Collart took place at the former neighborhood bar and restaurant, Thirsty Bernie, and the young Marine “could not stop talking about” how much he loved his work.
He said Spencer was responsible for making sure everybody who went up in the Osprey came home safe. He mused that his actions were part of the reason most people aboard the aircraft survived.
“He’s the one that would go up and down and pull their straps and make sure they were buckled down,” O’Dell said. “He’s the one if they needed to bail out, he would open the back door and start bailing them out. He was the one who was the door gunner, if they came in, under fire. And so, he protected his Marines that came on to that Osprey, and so did the pilots.”
A 21-year-old man from Arlington was among three Marines killed in Australia over the weekend.
Cpl. Spencer Collart died after the MV-22B Osprey aircraft he was on crashed and caught fire on Melville Island, off the coast of Australia’s Northern Territory. It happened during a military training exercise involving forces from the United States, Australia, the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia, news outlets reported.
Twenty Marines survived the crash, though three remained hospitalized as of Monday.
“The cause of the crash remains under investigation,” the Marine Corps said today in a press release that identified those killed, including Collart, the Osprey’s crew chief; pilot Capt. Eleanor LeBeau; and executive officer Maj. Tobin Lewis.
Collart “enlisted in the Marine Corps on October 26, 2020, and was promoted to the rank of Corporal on February 1, 2023,” according to the press release. “He served in Pensacola, FL, and Jacksonville, NC, before arriving at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, HI. Cpl Collart, an MV-22B crew chief, received the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.”
On Sunday night, President Biden offered his condolences to the families of the Marines killed.
Jill and I send our deepest condolences to the families of the Marines who lost their lives in this deadly crash. We are praying for those who also suffered injuries. https://t.co/sztAUHbpeB
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 28, 2023
A retired Marine Corps lieutenant general is facing a misdemeanor charge in Arlington after police say he drew a gun on someone having a dispute with his wife.
Lt. Gen. Frederick McCorkle (ret.), currently a resident of Tennessee, retired from the Marine Corps in October 2001 after serving as the Deputy Commandant for Aviation.
The alleged incident happened just before 9 p.m. last night (Wednesday). McCorkle was on the 900 block of S. Orme Street, near the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel and the entrance to Marine Corps headquarters at Henderson Hall, when police say there was a dispute between his wife and another woman.
According to Arlington County police, the 77-year-old McCorkle “became involved” in the dispute and “allegedly brandished a firearm.” He was stopped by officers and charged with brandishing, a misdemeanor in Virginia.
More from ACPD:
BRANDISHING, 2022-07200223, 900 block of S. Orme Street. At approximately 8:50 p.m. on July 20, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim and a female subject became involved in a verbal dispute during which the subject’s husband became involved and allegedly brandished a firearm. The female subject and male suspect left the area prior to police arrival. Responding officers met with the victim and located the suspect. Frederick McCorkle, 77, of Gray, TN was charged with Brandishing.
So far, there are no court records connected to the case.
The hotel, in Arlington’s Foxcroft Heights neighborhood, often hosts military-related events.
Image via Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame/YouTube
Arlington Has a New County Attorney — “Arlington County Board Selects MinhChau Corr as New County Attorney After conducting a nationwide search, the Arlington County Board has selected MinhChau Corr as the new County Attorney for Arlington County Government. As chief legal counsel to the Board, Ms. Corr will report directly to the County Board and lead an office of 14 attorneys and 3 paraprofessional staff.” [Arlington County]
New DCA Checkpoints Now Open — “New checkpoints opened Tuesday morning at Reagan National Airport, offering a speedier security process and what airport officials say is an upgraded experience befitting an airport that serves as a gateway to the nation’s capital. The checkpoints are one element of a $1 billion plan that marks the airport’s most significant upgrades since the opening of two new terminals in 1997.” [Washington Post]
Tomb Event Highlighted on Today Show — “Marking the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the American public is getting the chance to step forward and pay their respects for the very first time. TODAY’s Craig Melvin traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for NBC’s network-wide series ‘Those Who Serve.'” [Today Show]
Marine Corps Birthday Today — “On November 10, 2021, Marines across the globe will recognize and acknowledge 246 years of service to their country, the sacrifices made to defend democracy, and the Marine Corps’ enduring legacy as America’s premier fighting force. The Marine Corps’ annual tradition celebrates the establishment of the organization on November 10, 1775, by the Second Continental Congress.” [USMC]
YHS Players Help VHC Nurses — “The Yorktown High School football team presented the nurses at Virginia Hospital Center with bouquets of discount cards to say thank you for their work during the pandemic and beyond. The cards include discounts to local businesses within the local community who sponsor the football program.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Wednesday — Another great day is on tap. Today will start partly sunny, then gradually become sunnier, with a high near 68. Sunrise at 6:45 a.m. and sunset at 4:58 p.m. Tomorrow — Veterans Day — will be partly sunny, with a high near 67.
‘Innovation Studio’ Planned at HQ2 — “Amazon Web Services will open a new AWS Innovation Studio to collaborate on global solutions that leverage its cloud computing technologies to address issues such as housing insecurity, social justice, climate change, sustainability and health and education inequality. A first for AWS, the studio will launch at Amazon’s new HQ2 headquarters under construction in Arlington, Va.” [CRN]
First Responders Honor Fallen Marine — “ACPD and @ArlingtonVaFD paid our respects to USMC Sgt. Nicole Gee, who was tragically killed in action in Kabul, as her procession traveled through Arlington this evening. May we never forget her service and sacrifice.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Power Outage Near Rosslyn — “About 450 homes and businesses are without power in the Rosslyn area this morning. Initial reports suggest that residents heard a loud boom and firefighters subsequently found a very unlucky squirrel.” [Twitter]
Beyer Blasts GOP for Debt Limit Drama — “By filibustering legislation that would prevent a default, they are gambling with the full faith and credit of the United States. This is poor economic stewardship. The responsible course of action is to increase the debt ceiling to prevent a catastrophic default.” [Press Release]
APS Preparing for Collective Bargaining — “The push to give Arlington Public Schools’ staff collective-bargaining rights is expected to move another step forward in coming weeks. School Board members on Sept. 30 will review a draft list of budget priorities for next year to be handed to Superintendent Francisco Durán. Among the directives in the staff proposal: create a timeline for implementation of collective-bargaining, which until recently was banned for public-sector workers in local governments across Virginia.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s National Recovery Month — “September is celebrated as National Recovery Month with the purpose of educating communities about recovery from mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders; the effectiveness of treatment and recovery support services; and that recovery is possible. Arlington proudly stands alongside our recovery community.” [Arlington County]
Virginia Gubernatorial Debate — “Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe outlined sharply different pictures of Virginia and visions for its future Tuesday in the second and final debate of this year’s race for governor. Youngkin, a former business executive, described a state racked with crime and struggling under a dying economy, then pledged to fix it by slashing taxes and beefing up law enforcement. McAuliffe took credit for creating a booming economy when he served as governor from 2014 to 2018.” [Washington Post]
Tuesday Morning’s Big Boom — “A big boom was reported across a wide swath of Fairfax County from Reston and Herndon to McLean around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, leaving many residents confused regarding the possible source. The sound was likely caused by loud thunder that accompanied a storm that was crossing the area at the time.” [FFXnow]
Arlington police officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters paid tribute yesterday to Staff Sergeant Darin Taylor Hoover, a Marine from Utah who was among those killed in the Kabul airport bombing last month.
Local first responders saluted “as a symbolic gesture of gratitude” while Hoover’s procession was escorted around the Marine Corps War Memorial, en route from Dover Air Force Base to the Murphy Funeral Home near Ballston. The fallen Marine is being laid to rest today at Arlington National Cemetery.
Hoover’s family called the Utah native a hero who loved the Marine Corps and was beloved by his fellow Marines. He “was doing for others what they couldn’t do for themselves, and he made the ultimate sacrifice doing that,” his father told a local TV station.
Today, ACPD assisted with an escort for SSgt Darin T. Hoover, USMC (KIA Kabul). As a symbolic gesture of gratitude for SSgt. Hoover, he was escorted around the Iwo Jima Memorial as @ArlingtonVaFD, @acso_va and other public safety agencies honored his service and sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/HSflZ6VFnu
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 20, 2021
This afternoon ACFD, @ArlingtonVaPD, @acso_va, and other public safety agencies paid our respects to SSgt Darin T. Hoover, USMC (KIA Kabul). As a symbolic gesture of gratitude for SSgt. Hoover, he was escorted around the Iwo Jima Memorial. pic.twitter.com/hEenxA1qzs
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 20, 2021
A group of Marines in their dress blue uniforms braved floodwaters along Columbia Pike to help a stranded motorist.
Video of the rescue has gone viral on TikTok, racking up more than 800,000 views as of this article’s publication. It appears to have taken place on Columbia Pike near the Pentagon on Thursday, amid a torrential downpour that flooded a number of roadways around Arlington.
The Marines, in their formal white pants and blue jackets, are seen getting out of a Marine Corps bus that’s stopped on the side of Columbia Pike, under a bridge carrying traffic on Washington Blvd. High standing water can be seen around the driver’s car.
“The Marines are going to help us?” she’s heard asking. “We just got stuck.”
The group trudges through the floodwaters and then is seen pushing the car to safety.
“Oh my God, this is the most American thing ever,” the driver says. “Thank you so much!”
In the comments on TikTok, the driver further expressed her gratitude.
“As an immigrant we don’t usually see these thing in the country I grew up in,” she wrote. “I am so grateful for the country and its Marines and military.”
It’s all in a day’s work for members of the Corps, said others in the comments.
“I am going to tell you right now, they LOVED helping you out,” one man wrote. “Cause this is what we Marines do.”
Hat tip to @theblueapple
Winning Lottery Ticket Sold in Crystal City — “A Maryland man walked away with the top prize in the Virginia Lottery’s Double Dollar Crossword, after the ticket from ann Arlington convenience store turned out to be a winner.
Silver Spring resident Elvis Umana Hernandez works in construction and carpentry. He recently bought the winning ticket worth $250,000 during a visit to the 7-Eleven at 1500 S. Fern St.” [Patch]
‘Walking Marine’ Walks Through Arlington — “Terry ‘The Walking Marine’ Sharpe has been walking through Arlington today and giving out toy soldiers to raise awareness of veteran suicide.” [Twitter]
Goldman Sachs Investing in Local Startup — “Arlington startup MotoRefi, whose platform aims to make refinancing car loans easier for consumers, is closing in on an eight-figure round involving a blue-chip investor. The company is poised to raise about $45 million in new funding, the lion’s share of which comes from Goldman Sachs, according to sources familiar with the deal.” [Washington Business Journal]
Catholic Diocese Lifts Restrictions — “The Catholic diocese in Arlington, Virginia, has lifted COVID-19 restrictions for masses and other activities. Bishop Michael Francis Burbidge said in a video message released Tuesday, ‘We can once again celebrate as a community, without the need for social distancing or capacity limits.’ People who are not vaccinated are ‘encouraged to wear a mask for the time being,’ the bishop said.” [WTOP]
ACFD Helps Battle Fairfax House Fire — “The Fairfax County and Arlington fire departments also responded to a house fire in the 7700 block of Virginia Lane in Falls Church last night. A cause and estimate of damages have not been announced yet, but the blaze did not result in any reported injuries.” [Tysons Reporter]
Affordable Housing Bill Takes Effect July 1 — “Thanks to HB 2046 from Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, beginning on July 1 localities across Virginia will no longer be allowed to deny building permits to projects ‘because the housing development contains or is expected to contain affordable housing units occupied or intended for occupancy by families or individuals with incomes at or below 80% of the median income of the area.'” [GGWash]
Reminder: We’re Taking The Day Off — ARLnow’s staff has been working hard during the pandemic and we’re getting the day off to enjoy a four-day Memorial Day weekend. As such, except in the event of breaking news, we will not be publishing today.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Nilah Williamson, the Yorktown High School senior who was recently featured on Good Morning America for pursuing a pilot’s license before a driver’s license, will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy next fall.
Williamson said she wants to major in chemistry, a field that she is passionate about. After four years in labs, however, she plans to go to flight school, returning to the cockpit and trading in her goggles for a pilot’s uniform.
The teen said she hopes the pilot’s license that she is pursuing will give her a leg up in flight school.
“You compete for a slot at flight school and you compete for an aircraft,” she said. “You have to be at the top of your class.”
After passing her written test this September, Williamson started flight practice. She needs at least 40 hours of flight time, culminating in a cross-country flight, to earn her license.
“I wanted to use this time to actually do something and achieve a goal I have for myself,” said Williamson, who moved to Arlington with her family two summers ago.
After enrolling in Arlington Public Schools, she took aviation as an elective at the Arlington Career Center, which she credits with helping her get on-track toward her license. This spring, she plans to use Yorktown’s three-week senior experience — when students can pursue internships and career opportunities — to finish the bulk of her needed hours at the Navy Annapolis Flight Center.
Williamson said learning from home has helped her juggle practicing flying and driving — she still has yet to get her driver’s license — as well as school and her weekend job.
“I enjoy virtual learning so much,” she said. “I don’t really think I would’ve been this successful this school year without it being this way.”
She said this year has also given her time to reflect on her future.
“The pandemic made me realize I wanted to serve my country even more,” she said. “With all the events that happened I worked hard to see the good despite all the bad happening, that made me see that this country was worth fighting for.”
She said she is paying closer attention to current events in other countries, and feels more inspired to join the Marine Corps, whose mission is “to help people who can’t help themselves.”
Ultimately, Williamson said she wants to be a pilot in the Marine Corps, which blends her love for flying with the admiration she has long held for the women of the Marines.
“Seeing female Marines growing up, they were my super heroes — my Wonder Woman and Supergirl,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been striving for. That’s why I think I would strive there.”
Williamson has many family members who served or still serve in the military. Her father, Col. Ahmed Williamson, is an active-duty Marine, and she has cousins who were pilots in the Air Force and the Marines.
“Those values are embedded into who I am,” she said.
Patrick Moran, a 1990 Yorktown High School graduate, is reaching astronomical heights in his career.
Moran is one of two new pilots appointed by Virgin Galactic into its Pilot Corps on Oct. 27. He joined Jameel Janjua as one of eight pilots in the space flight program.
Virgin Galactic bills itself as “the world’s first commercial spaceline and vertically integrated aerospace company,” according to the company’s website.
A former fighter pilot, Moran will be part of the preparation for commercial service in a test pilot capacity. He and the Pilot Corps will eventually transition to being spaceship pilots, responsible for the commercial flying of passengers.
Moran and Janjua will train to fly SpaceShipTwo, what the company’s site refers to as “the world’s first passenger carrying spaceship to be built by a private company and operated in commercial service.” Moran will also be assigned other responsibilities while based at Spaceport America, New Mexico.
“I am excited to join this fantastic team of talented pioneers leading the charge for commercial space travel and now in the final stages of its flight test program,” the Arlington native said in a press release.
“As a flight instructor, I loved to take people flying in the F/A-18 for the first time, to see their huge smiles as they climbed out of the cockpit. I can’t wait to share the experience of going to space with our Future Astronauts and to see their reactions as they step out of the spaceship and describe their views of Earth from space.”
A 1995 graduate of the University of Virginia’s engineering school, Moran served as a pilot in the Marine Corps for 20 years before retiring in 2015 as a lieutenant colonel. He served in multiple roles while in the Marine Corps, including as a test pilot and test pilot school instructor, and also served as the lead government test pilot for Navy and Marine Corps variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Moran currently lives in Henrico, Virgina, with his wife and son.
Photo (above) via NASA on Unsplash, (below) via Virgin Galactic
If it looks, feels and smells like California during wildfire season outside — there’s a good explanation for why.
Amid sunny, warming weather, the air in Arlington has turned hazy with a distinct campfire smell. The smoke is coming from a controlled burn near Marine Corps Base Quantico, blown by prevailing winds over Arlington, D.C. and Fairfax County, among other D.C. area locales.
“The burn is expected to last 2 days,” noted Arlington County Police.
ADVISORY ⚠️: The U.S. Forest Service is conducting a controlled burn of approximately 2,000 acres of land in the area of Quantico, VA. Due to shifting winds, you may notice an odor of burning or the presence of smoke outside. The burn is expected to last 2 days.@Arlingtonfire
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) March 8, 2020
Here are the current smokey conditions over Arlington County & Northwest DC. I've alerted @dcfireems about the Quantico burn. They're running a bunch of calls because of it. @ArlingtonVaFD @ARLnowDOTcom @ArlingtonVA @WTOPtraffic @WTOP @ffxfirerescue pic.twitter.com/9A51gjEEOZ
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) March 8, 2020
Marine Corps Base Quantico is conducting a controlled burn near the Stafford and Fauquier County Line. Due to current weather conditions, moderate to heavy smoke from this controlled burn is travelling in to Prince William County. https://t.co/suVPiB4gNa pic.twitter.com/926sueLq4B
— Prince William PD (@PWCPolice) March 8, 2020