The aircraft had left Albert J. Ellis Airport near Jacksonville on Nov. 17 and was heading to Grosse Ile Airport in Michigan when it went missing, according to the FAA.

The pilot, who was the only person on board the plane, did not file a flight plan or receive air traffic control service, FAA officials said. An alert was issued when family members reported that the aircraft did not reach its destination.

Authorities were initially searching for the plane in Pender County, but did not find anything.

A location signal from the plane was then pinpointed at about 3 p.m. on Nov. 17 about 2 miles northeast of the end of the runway at the Duplin County Airport, said Southerland. Three ground teams, made up of a total of approximately 50 people, spent hours searching for the plane before finding the wreckage that night.

Burney described how she found out about the news.

"Scrolling through Facebook and I saw there had been a downed plane. It had left from Jacksonville going to Michigan and that it was an active-duty Marine. My heart dropped," Burney said.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.