Three US sailors lost in plane crash near Japan are identified

SPH Brightcove Video
The missing sailors (from left) Bryan Grosso, Steven Combs and Matthew Chialastri. PHOTOS: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The US Navy on Saturday (Nov 25) identified the three sailors lost after an aircraft carrying 11 crew members and passengers crashed in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday.

The sailors were Lieutenant Steven Combs, Matthew Chialastri, an aviation boatswain's mate airman, and Bryan Grosso, an aviation ordnanceman airman apprentice, according to a statement by the 7th Fleet.

The men have been missing since the C2-A Greyhound aircraft they were aboard crashed southeast of Okinawa, Japan, on its way to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan. The others on board were rescued and in good condition.

The Navy ended its search for the three men Friday and notified their families. An investigation into the crash is continuing.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these sailors," Vice-Admiral Phil Sawyer, the commander of the 7th Fleet, said in the fleet's statement.

"Their service and sacrifice will be lasting in 7th Fleet and we will continue to stand the watch for them, as they did bravely for all of us."

Combs and Grosso were natives of Florida, and Chialastri was a native of Louisiana.

Chialastri and Grosso were assigned to the Ronald Reagan. Combs was assigned to a fleet logistics support squadron and had embarked aboard the Ronald Reagan as part of Carrier Air Wing Five.

The crash was the fifth accident this year for the 7th Fleet, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and includes 20,000 sailors and 50 to 70 vessels. The Navy relieved Vice-Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, the head of the 7th Fleet, of his command in August, and Navy officials said two of the previous accidents had been avoidable.

Captain Michael Wosje, the commander of Carrier Air Wing Five, praised the search and rescue teams, which covered nearly 1,000 nautical square miles over two days.

"The entire Navy team is working together to investigate the cause of this mishap and we will remain focused on our mission to operate forward in a safe and professional manner," Wosje said in the 7th Fleet's statement.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.