DOD Identifies 8 Killed in CV-22 Crash Off Coast of Japan

Air Force Special Operations Command said no survivors were likely and that efforts are now focused on recovering remains and aircraft debris.

Four CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group Detachment 1 fly above Tokyo, Japan. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

Search and rescue efforts underway off the coast of Japan following the crash of an Air Force CV-22 Osprey last week are now focusing on recovery of crewmember remains and aircraft debris, according to defense officials.

"The transition from a rescue operation to a recovery operation occurs when the determination is made that survivors are unlikely," Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said Tuesday.

The CV-22B assigned to the Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan went down offshore of Yakushima Island Wednesday afternoon with eight crew members on board during a routine training mission. As of Tuesday afternoon, the remains of six had been located.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of eight American troops in a tragic aircraft crash off the coast of Japan," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday. "We continue to gather information on this tragic incident, and we will conduct a rigorous and thorough investigation. The United States is grateful to Japan’s Coast Guard, Self-Defense forces, and local communities—including fishermen—for their search and rescue efforts."

AFSOC identified the deceased airmen as:

  • Staff Sergeant Jake Galliher, 24, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; airborne linguist specializing in Chinese-Mandarin;
  • Major Jeffrey Hoernemann, 32, of Andover, Minnesota; CV-22 instructor pilot and officer in charge of training;
  • Major Eric Spendlove, 36, of St. George, Utah; residency trained flight surgeon and medical operations flight commander;
  • Major Luke Unrath, 34, of Riverside, California; CV-22 pilot and flight commander;
  • Captain Terrell Brayman, 32, of Pittsford, New York; CV-22 pilot and flight commander;
  • Technical Sergeant Zachary Lavoy, 33, of Oviedo, Florida; medical operations flight chief;
  • Staff Sergeant Jake Turnage, 25, of Kennesaw, Georgia; flight engineer;
  • Senior Airman Brian Johnson, 32, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; flight engineer.

Search efforts deployed assets and personnel from five U.S. military branches, and was supported by Japanese military search teams, AFSOC said.

“On behalf of all of the joint U.S. teammates actively involved in the search, we want to extend our sincere gratitude to the Government of Japan’s Self Defense Force, Coast Guard, law enforcement, mariners, and local Yakushima civilian volunteers for their tireless assistance in the search and rescue operations for our airmen," Rear Admiral Jeromy Williams, Special Operations Command—Pacific commander, said in a statement.

"Their selfless dedication in our time of need demonstrates the ironclad bond between our nations," he said, adding, “We are resolved to locating our aircrew and bringing them home to their families.”

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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