Hundreds attend funeral for Maine Marine killed off Australia

BETHEL — Hundreds attended a service Saturday in Bethel to celebrate the life of Marine Capt. Benjamin Robert Cross, who was killed last month during a training exercise off the coast of Australia.

Family, friends and fellow Marines described Cross as a natural leader and true friend who improved the lives of everyone who knew him.

“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.”

Cross, 26, was among three Marines killed on Aug. 5 when their MV-22 Osprey crashed into the Coral Sea while trying to land on a Navy ship off the east coast of Australia. Fellow Marine Cpl. Nathaniel Ordway, 21, of Kansas and Lance Cpl. Ruben Velasco, 19, of California also died in the crash.

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.

Cross, a first lieutenant who was promoted posthumously to captain, spent most of his childhood in Bethel, where he was a standout athlete and student. He graduated in 2009 from Telstar Regional High School in Bethel.

Saturday’s memorial service at Telstar Regional was followed by a burial with full military honors at Riverside Cemetery in Bethel. Speakers at the service shared stories about Cross’ determination, humility, selflessness and sense of humor.

Cross’ uncle Christopher Young described him as one of those rare people who set specific goals early in life and achieved them. His dedication, selflessness and desire to succeed made him an exceptional student, athlete, Marine and friend, Young said.

“Ben Cross accomplished all of that, and much more,” he said.

Marine Col. Patrick Looney said he met Cross at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, when Cross was a senior at the prestigious military college. Cross, who attended the institute on a full scholarship, was a Marine aviator who loved…

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