Navy pilot lost in C-2 crash 'flew the hell out of that airplane'
A Navy lieutenant who lost his life while working to save his passengers in a C-2 Greyhound crash Nov. 22 may be recommended for an award, an official said Nov. 27.
Lt. Steven Combs, the pilot of the aircraft, was one of three sailors who died when the aircraft crashed Nov. 22 in the Pacific Ocean en route to the carrier Ronald Reagan from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Eight other sailors, including the co-pilot, were rescued from the water.
Combs managed to execute a landing on the water, giving the four aircrew and seven passengers the best opportunity to get clear of the aircraft and reach safety. The difficulty of such a landing with the cargo aircraft was compounded by high seas, which by some reports reached 10 to 12 feet, said Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces.
“They did not have a lot of notice that they were going to have to ditch just miles from the carrier,” Flanders told Military.com. “To use the words of his co-pilot who told us, ‘[Combs] flew the hell out of that plane.'”
Flanders added that the possibility of a posthumous award for Combs in light of his actions was under discussion.
Combs, who was commissioned in 2011 and reported to Fleet Logistics Squadron 30 in 2015, had served aboard Ronald Reagan as a detachment assistant operations officer and administrative officer, according to a Navy release. During his career, he had logged more than 1,200 flight hours and 100 carrier-arrested landings.
Navy personnel were able to rescue the eight survivors within an hour of the C-2 going down southwest of Okinawa. On Nov. 25, the Navy identified those lost as Combs, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment), Airman Matthew Chialastri, and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso.
Multiple sources have reported that engine failure is suspected as a cause of the crash, though an investigation is still underway.
“Clearly there was something amiss with the aircraft and basically they were not close enough to the carrier to try to bring it in,” Flanders said.
On Nov. 25, the Ronald Reagan held a memorial service to commemorate the lives of Combs, Chialastri, and Grosso.
Capt. Michael Wosje, the commander of the Reagan’s Carrier Air Wing 5, paid special tribute to the fallen pilot.
“The loss of one of our pilots weighs heavily on the entire Carrier Air Wing Five team. Lt. Combs will always be remembered as a hero,” Wosje said, according to a news release. “I am proud to have flown with him.”
The commander of the carrier, Capt. Buzz Donnelly, also honored the sailors who died.
“The loss of these crew members hits across the entire ship with great significance,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “On behalf of the entire crew of USS Ronald Reagan, I extend heartfelt prayers and sincere condolences to the families and friends of the three shipmates we lost.”
Less than a week after the tragic crash, the Navy has not moved to suspend or pause flight operations for the aging Greyhound, the service’s carrier onboard delivery platform for personnel and logistics.
Flanders noted that the current batch of the aircraft, C-2A(R), which began flying for the Navy in the mid-1980s, has an almost unprecedented safety record. There has been only one previous fatality — a tragic 1988 mishap in which an individual walked into the aircraft’s prop arc.
“This mishap was the first of its kind in several decades,” Flanders said of the most recent crash.
The Greyhounds now flying for the Navy recently underwent a service-life extension program that was completed in 2015. The transports are set to be retired and replaced by Navy-variant CMV-22 Ospreys in the mid-2020s.
- Veterans Can Now Apply for VA Identification Cards
- CORRECTED: Tricare Says No Increase for Most Pregnancy Costs in 2018
- Thunderbirds Commander Fired for 'Loss of Confidence'
- US Army to Field New Sidearm Down to Team Leader Level
- Army Reserve Officer Gets 4 Years for Defrauding Government
How a Christmas-gift-to-be turned into a booming vet-owned business
Looking for the perfect gift for the salty veteran in your life and fast running out of ideas? Put those 72 koozies down and check out Medals of America.
This wounded warrior is turning steel into gold in Alabama
Colin Wayne went from an Army National Guardsman to a fitness model to...a steel worker? Wayne’s company, Redline Steel, creates art from steel.
3 leadership lessons that will take you from the battlefield to the boardroom
Col. Ted Studdard never imagined he'd have a 25-year career in the Marines, but he's got some pro tips to share now that he's a bonafide "mustang."
How a soldier went to war with his unique brand of Cuban-style cigars
Blanco Cigar, a company built and run by a first generation American with Cuban roots, has its ups and downs, but generated over a million dollars in 2017.
6 crazy things actually found in boot camp amnesty boxes
Upon arriving at boot camp, the staff gives newbies a chance to toss prohibited items into the "amnesty box." Want to know what's inside?
Why your next battle buddy might be a robot armed with a railgun
The Army has quite a Christmas wishlist for Uncle Sam Claus, and it's filled with all kinds of goodies like robots, light tanks, and lasers.
Here's why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren't
A sailor earning respect from a Marine is a tough challenge. It's a special privilege to have a Marine tell you happy birthday each Nov. 10.
Here are the changes to the combat uniform the Army is testing right now
The Army will be testing new uniforms and boots beginning in 2018, better suited for hotter environments. Here's what's different about them.
The Navy will pump out more attack subs to counter Russia and China
The Navy had previously decided to slow production of Virginia-Class submarines, but has now decided to produce more in order to keep up with rivals.