The pilot who died in an F/A-18C Hornet crash during a training mission near Twentynine Palms was identified Saturday as Maj. Richard Norton of Arcadia, California.
Norton, a pilot with the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, was attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11.
The single-seat aircraft departed from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Thursday to perform a close air support mission as a part of a pre-deployment training exercise. The crash occurred at about 10:30 p.m. in the vicinity of Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, according to officials.
"My heart goes out to our Marine's family as we support them through this difficult time," said Maj. Gen. Mark Wise, commanding general of 3rd MAW.
Norton, 36, was commissioned in the Marine Corps in March 2005. He previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed to Japan multiple times as part of the Unit Deployment Program, according to USMC officials.
Norton's personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star.
"Losing Maj. Norton is a tremendous loss to the MAG-11 Team," said Col. William Swan, commanding officer of MAG-11. "He was one of the best and brightest Hornet pilots our nation had to offer -- our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."