Crew helpless to prevent plane crash that killed Richland Marine, report says

Welcoming home a fallen Richland Marine

The procession for Marine Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman.
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The procession for Marine Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman.

The cause of a military cargo plane crash that killed a Richland Marine in 2017 has been traced back to a corroded propeller, according to an investigation report.

Marine Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman died in the crash in Mississippi on July 10, 2017. He was a member of the elite Special Operations Command, serving in the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion in Camp LeJeune, N.C.

The West Richland Post Office is proposed to be named for him.

Military investigators concluded that corrosion was not removed as it should have been from a propeller blade during an overhaul in 2011.

A crack developed in the corroded blade, and the blade broke off as the plane was flying at 20,000 feet.

The blade sliced through the side of the main body of the Marine Corps KC-130T, the investigation found.

It quickly led to a series of catastrophic structural and mechanical failures, the report said. The plane then broke into three pieces.

0717_Dietrich Schmieman
Marine Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman

“Neither the aircrew nor anyone aboard the KC-130T could have prevented or altered the ultimate outcome after such a failure,” said Marine Brigadier Gen. Bradley S. James, commander of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, in his comments on the report.

None of the 16 aboard the plan — 15 Marines and a sailor — survived.

“What we do as an institution is inherently dangerous,” James said in his comments. “Understanding that fact does not lessen the impact on all of us when we have injuries or loss of life. These wonderful Marines and sailor will not be forgotten.”

Brigadier Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, Marine Special Operations commander, said the absence of the seven raiders, including Schmieman, “is felt throughout this entire command on a daily basis.”

The memorial service for Marine Sgt. Dietrich Schmieman was held at Central Church in Richland on Saturday.

Schmieman was a graduate of Hanford High School, who had completed two years of collage through the Running Start program, when he decided to join the Marines.

He was on board the doomed cargo plane en route to training, after his commander had picked him for the assignment because of his intelligence and dependability.

His father, Eric Schmieman of Richland, told the Herald shortly after his son’s death that Dietrich had recently told him that all he wanted to be was what he was then — a critical skills operator in special operations, the first guy in the fight.

Susan Eric Schmieman
Susan and Eric Schmieman hold the 2010 Marine boot camp graduation portrait of their son, Dietrich, while standing in front of their Richland home. The Hanford High graduate was one of 16 people to die in a military plane crash in Mississippi. Tri-City Herald File

He served two overseas deployments during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and received 14 awards and decorations during his time in service, including several achievement medals, Good Conduct Medals and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He loved his hometown and the Pacific Northwest, said his father and mother, Susan Schmieman. One of his many tattoos said “Made in the Pacific Northwest.”

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., with the support of Washington state’s Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, has succeeded in getting a bill passed by both houses of Congress to name the West Richland Post Office at 4891 W. Van Giesen St. for Sgt. Schmieman.

The bill is waiting for a signature from President Trump.

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533