U.S. naval plane crashes in Philippine Sea, three airmen lost

By Heidi Cho
Nation & World Editor

A U.S. military aircraft crashed in the Philippine Sea near Japan on Nov. 22. This is the fifth accident the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy have experienced this year, according to NPR.

The U.S. Navy safely recovers eight passengers. (AP Photo)
The U.S. Navy safely recovers eight passengers. (AP Photo)

Eight of the 11 airmen aboard were safely rescued and now aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, CVN 76, in “good condition,” according to the U.S. Navy.

Three airmen are still missing however, according to The New York Times.

Lt. Steven Combs, Matthew Chialastri, an aviation boatswain’s mate airman, and Bryan Grosso, an aviation ordnanceman airman apprentice, were lost in the crash, according to the official statement from the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

Together the USS Ronald Reagan and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force covered more than 1,000 square miles in search of the lost airmen, according to the  U.S. Seventh Fleet.

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire team onboard Ronald Reagan go out to the families and friends of our fallen shipmates,” Capt. Michael Wosje, Commander, Carrier Air Wing Five, said, according to the official U.S. Seventh Fleet statement. “We are thankful for our professional search and rescue teams and their incredible bravery.”

Eight additional warships and aircraft joined the search, according to The Washington Post.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the situation at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida, where Trump celebrated Thanksgiving, according to The Guardian.

“The @USNavy is conducting search and rescue following aircraft crash. We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 22.

Search and rescue efforts ceased for the three airmen after two consecutive days on Friday, Nov. 25. Their families have been notified, according to U.S. Seventh Fleet.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these sailors,” Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, the commander of the Seventh Fleet, said in the fleet’s statement. “Their service and sacrifice will be lasting in Seventh Fleet and we will continue to stand the watch for them, as they did bravely for all of us.”

The C-2A Greyhound crashed en route to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in a routine transport flight. The twin-engine aircraft is typically used to ferry personnel and cargo, according to The Guardian.

This is the first time a C-2A was involved in a fatal crash since 1973, according to The Washington Post.

The investigation is ongoing, according to The New York Times.