It crashed in rural MS after losing contact with air traffic control at about 2100 GMT, Brigadier General Bradley James said.
Andy Jones, who works on his family's catfish farm nearby, said he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane "spinning" downward with one engine smoking.
James did not specify what he meant by "cruise altitude".
Chad E. Jenson is seen in
"On board were 16 great Americans representing the US Marine Corps and US Navy", James said.
The crash left a debris field with a radius of about 5 miles, authorities said. "There is a large debris pattern", James said. "Removal of anything from the area could be subject to criminal prosecution". His father served for 30 years in the Marine Corps and was a member of the Frederick Police Department. He continued saying that the men and women in uniform, risk their lives every day to secure freedom.According to the BBC news, Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted, 'Marine plane crash in MS is heartbreaking.
The plane crashed into a soybean field in LeFlore County and killed 15 Marines and one Navy sailor.More news: Pilgrimage turned into carnage in Amarnath
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 force of the crash almost flattened the plane, Jones said.
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said in a press release: "This is a tragic reminder of the dangers our service members are confronted with on a daily basis, including the training missions that are needed to help keep our nation safe at home and overseas".
The crash happened outside the small town of Itta Bena about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of the state capital of Jackson.More news: Body of missing Pennsylvania man found among other human remains
The cause of the crash is under investigation and the Marines did not immediately have additional information.
The crash of the KC-130 killed nine Marines from Newburgh, N.Y., and six Marines and a Navy Corpsman from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Brig.More news: Nigeria Will Support Cap on Its Oil Production, Minister Says
The plane was built in 1993.