The U.S. Air Force community is mourning the loss of eight servicemen following the devastating crash of a CV-22 Osprey off the coast of Japan. The tragedy, which occurred on November 29, marked a somber transition from a search and rescue operation to a recovery effort on December 5.
The Osprey, a part of Air Force Special Operations Command, encountered a fatal incident leading to an extensive search and rescue mission. This operation saw a coordinated effort between the U.S. and Japanese military, coast guard, law enforcement, and civilian volunteers. The bulk of the wreckage was located on December 4. According to an official statement, “The transition from a rescue operation to a recovery operation occurs when the determination is made that survivors are unlikely.”
As of now, the remains of three airmen have been recovered, with efforts underway to recover three others. Tragically, two bodies remain unaccounted for.
The Air Force has identified the eight airmen who were aboard the aircraft. Among them was Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” M. Galliher, 24, a Direct Support Operator and airborne linguist specializing in Mandarin, from Pittsfield, Mass. The other seven servicemen, identified on December 5, include Maj. Jeffrey T. Hoernemann, Maj. Eric V. Spendlove, Maj. Luke A. Unrath, Capt. Terrell K. Brayman, Tech. Sgt. Zachary E. Lavoy, Staff Sgt. Jake M. Turnage, and Senior Airman Brian K. Johnson. These men served in various capacities within the 353rd Special Operations Wing, illustrating their deep commitment and diverse roles within the Air Force.
Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, AFSOC commander, expressed profound sorrow in his statement: “In times like these, where service to our nation is not just a personal commitment but also a legacy woven into the fabric of our families, the depth of sorrow is immeasurable.”
The crash is notably the deadliest aviation incident for the USAF since 2018 and marks the deadliest-ever CV-22 accident. The Osprey, known for its unique tilt-rotor design, has been involved in several notable incidents, underscoring ongoing concerns about its safety record.
This tragic event has united various military and civilian groups in the search and recovery efforts, including the Japan Coast Guard, Japan Self-Defense Forces, Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, and Special Operations Command—Pacific, among others.
As investigations continue into this heartbreaking incident, the Air Force community and the nation grieve the irreplaceable loss of these eight brave airmen, whose service and sacrifice will forever be remembered.