It dropped below the tree line with a bang.
"You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around", he said.
Now, the C-130 has become famous for its ability to refuel other aircraft in flight, fly a small military force and its heavy equipment around the world, and for its capability of landing on short, unfinished airstrips.
During the news conference, Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety Marshall Fisher reminded residents that any person taking items from the site of the accident could be prosecuted. He said the fire department used 9,000 gallons of foam to extinguish the resulting blaze.
There were 15 Marines, both active-duty members of the corps and reservists, and one Navy corpsman aboard the plane when it went down Monday afternoon.
Smoke and flames rise from the crash site near Itta Bena, Miss. Officials said that the wreck spread debris for miles.
"That means an in-flight breakup", the former inspector general for the US Department of Transportation said.
Leflore County Emergency Management Agency Director Frank Randle told reporters at a press conference Monday night, that a total of 16 bodies were recovered from the wreckage and that the plane had spiraled into the ground about 85 miles north of Jackson in the Mississippi Delta.
The cause of the crash was not yet known and under investigation, the statement added.
Following the initial reports, several state and federal politicians and officials have already given statements of condolences following the crash.
Six Marines and the sailor were members of the 2d Marine Raider Battalion, based in Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
The plane was based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York, and officials said some of those killed were from the base.
The KC-130 Hercules transport aircraft originated from the eastern N.C. base near Havelock and "experienced a mishap", according to Captain Sarah Burns, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps.
The Federal Aviation Administration had contacted the military after the plane disappeared from air-traffic control radar over MS, the statement said.
Two victims of the crash have been identified so far. Their unit is part of Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command. The FBI told CNN on Tuesday that it is not at the scene. "He loved his job".
Johnson has yet to receive any answers about the crash. "We still don't know what caused it", he said. "But this sudden loss and also this sudden news here has really taken many of us by surprise and we're all going to be striving to help provide aid and comfort to these families".