Friends say 37-year-old Maj. Luke Parker was flying to Detroit to attend the funeral of a fellow Marine.
Parker was flying his Focke-Wulf 149 aircraft from Onslow County when his plane vanished.
His body and the wreckage were found Monday night northeast of the Duplin County Airport.
Parker is survived by his wife and a 10-year-old daughter.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating.
Crews tried to pinpoint a signal given off by the plane's emergency locator beacon Monday. They had hits in Duplin, Pender and Sampson counties.
Search and rescue crews found the plane in a heavily wooded area just north of the airport in Kenansville. It was about 1/2 to 1 mile from the end of the runway.