The Pentagon has announced that all eight airmen who were on board a U.S. military plane have died in crash off the coast of Japan last week.
A CV-22 Osprey was on a routine training mission on November 29 when it crashed into waters off the coast of Yakushima Island in southern Kagoshima prefecture, according to the U.S. Air Force.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the bodies of three airmen have been recovered. The remains of three others have been located and are in the process of being recovered.
“The recovery operation will now focus on locating and recovering the remaining two airmen and aircraft debris,” he said at a news conference.
A Pentagon press release explained that a change in mission from rescue to recovery happens when it’s determined that it is unlikely there are any survivors.
The deceased airmen are Maj. Jeffrey T. Hoernemann, 32, of Andover, Minnesota, who was a CV-22 Osprey instructor pilot and officer in charge of training; Maj. Eric V. Spendlove, 36, of St. George, Utah, who was a residency trained flight surgeon and medical operations flight commander; Maj. Luke A. Unrath, 34, of Riverside, California, who was a CV-22 pilot and flight commander; Capt. Terrell K. Brayman, 32, of Pittsford, New York, who was a CV-22 pilot and flight commander; Tech. Sgt. Zachary E. Lavoy, 33, of Oviedo, Florida, who was a medical operations flight chief; Staff Sgt. Jake M. Turnage, 25, of Kennesaw, Georgia, who was a flight engineer; Staff Sgt. Jacob M. Galliher, 24, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who was a direct support operator; and Senior Airman Brian K. Johnson, 32, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who was a flight engineer.
Six of them were assigned to the Yokota Air Base, while two others were assigned to the Kadena Air Base, both U.S. air bases in Japan.
Ryder said all families of these airmen have now been notified.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said the Defense Department continues to gather information on this incident, and will conduct a rigorous and thorough investigation.
President Joe Biden said he and his wife Jill were heartbroken to learn of the loss of eight American service members.
In the wake of the U.S. military plane crash, the Japanese government urged the Pentagon to ground the operations of its Osprey hybrid planes in the country.
The CV-22 Osprey is a multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing and short takeoff and landing capabilities. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.
Years ago, Okinawa residents had voiced concerns about the safety of Osprey planes.
The U.S. military’s other aircraft in this series have been involved in accidents previously, some of which were fatal.
This is the first fatal accident involving Osprey in Japan.
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