- Associated Press - Saturday, September 16, 2017

BETHEL, Maine (AP) - A Marine killed in a training crash off the coast of Australia has been laid to rest in Maine, where family members described him Saturday as a natural leader and true friend.

Marine Capt. Ben Cross was one of three Marines who died when an MV-22 Osprey crashed on Aug. 5. The 26-year-old grew up in Bethel and attended Telstar High School, where a celebration of life was held Saturday, the Portland Press Herald reported (https://bit.ly/2x7T6Pm).

Ben meant so much to everyone he touched, and those that touched him,” said his father, Robert Cross. “We are so proud of him and everything he accomplished.”

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Cross had been stationed on the Japanese island of Okinawa for the past year and was training in Australia for the last three months, family members said. He and fellow Marines Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, of Kansas, and Lance Cpl. Ruben Velasco, 19, of California, died when they crashed into the Coral Sea while trying to land on a Navy ship off the east coast of Australia. Cross, a first lieutenant was promoted posthumously to captain.

A friend and fellow Marine, 1st Lt. Jeremy Methven, said Cross was a leader who would put the safety of his fellow Marines before his own.

“He knew he was doing what he was put on this earth to do - we all know that,” Methven said. “When times are tough and we really need it, Ben will be there for all of us.”

At Telstar, Cross was voted “most likely to succeed.” He was remembered as an athlete and honor roll student with a strong moral compass who achieved his dream of flying.

“I’ve probably had 1,500 students since he graduated, so when he still stands out, that says something,” history teacher Valerie Forman told the newspaper. “He really had this magnetism, not just with peers but teachers, too. And he always stepped up when things needed to happen. He would help set up but he’d also stay behind to clean, which no kid wants to do.”

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