Central Florida airman identified as one of eight killed in Osprey crash near Japan

OVIEDO, Fla. — An Air Force sergeant from Central Florida was among the eight airmen killed in an aircraft crash near Japan last week, Air Force Special Operations Command announced Tuesday.


33-year-old Tech Sgt. Zachary Lavoy, of Oviedo, was a medical operations flight chief assigned to the 1st Special Operations Squadron, 353rd Special Operations Wing at Kadena Air Base in Japan.

Air Force Special Operations Command announced Tuesday that what was an “intensive” 24/7 search and rescue effort had officially transitioned to a recovery operation focused on locating and recovering the remains of all eight airmen and the aircraft debris.

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Of the eight airmen who were on board the CV-22B Osprey when it crashed, the remains of three have been recovered while the remains of three others have been located and are in the process of being recovered. Search crews are still attempting to locate the remains of the remaining two.

The other airmen lost in the crash were identified as 32-year-old Maj. Jeffrey Hoernemann of Andover, Minnesota, 36-year-old Maj. Eric Spendlove of St. George, Utah, 34-year-old Maj. Luke Unrath of Riverside, California, 32-year-old Capt. Terrell Brayman of Pittsford, New York, 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Jake Turnage of Kennesaw, Georgia, and 32-year-old Senior Airman Brian Johnson of Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

The remains of Staff Sgt. Jake Galliher were recovered on the day of the crash.

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According to Air Force Special Operations Command, the crew was conducting a “routine training mission” off the shore of Yakushima Island on Nov. 29 when a “mishap” occurred.

The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and peers of all who are impacted by this mishap and loss of life,” Air Force special Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind said. “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 honorable service of these eight Airmen to this great Nation will never be forgotten, as they are now among the giants who shape our history.”

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Noted for its hybrid design, the Osprey is able to configure its propellers so that it can take off and land like a helicopter, but can also rotate its propellers mid-flight to a forward position, allowing it to fly much faster, like an airplane.

Japan’s Coast Guard and Self-Defense Forces will continue to assist the United States Pacific Air Forces and Pacific Fleet with the ongoing recovery effort.

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