Military vet, dad-to-be among Americans killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash

Some of the eight Americans who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash have been identified — including a soon-to-be first-time father and a military veteran who was enjoying vacation.

Brothers Melvin and Bennett Riffel from Redding, Calif., were returning from a trip to Australia when Flight 302 crashed shortly after taking off from Bole International Airport in Ethiopia on Sunday, according to NBC News.

“These are two guys that when they’re in the room, you really know it,” family friend and Redding Chamber of Commerce president Jake Mangas said Monday night. “These guys were just wonderful, and they’re going to be missed deeply by this community [and] for those family and friends that knew them the best.”

Melvin’s wife, Brittney, is expecting their first child, CBS News reported.

Antoine Lewis, of Matteson, Ill., a former company commander in the US Army, was also on the doomed flight. His mother, Antoinette, said her son was on vacation in Africa and planned to move there someday.

“He had told us he was excited about it,” Antoinette told CBS Chicago. “I will say that plane went down with him doing what he wanted to do most, and that was to stretch out and embrace our mother country.”

Lewis leaves behind his wife, Yalena Lopez, whom he married last year, and a 15-year-old son.

Mucaad Hussein Abdullah, a resident of Saint Cloud, Minn., also died.

The crash of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 — the second involving that model in just five months — killed all 157 people on board.

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