Family mourns airman killed in Osprey crash as search continues

by Tommy Grant

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jake Galliher, 24, was killed Wednesday in the CV-22 Osprey aircraft crash off the coast of Japan that has left at least one airman dead and seven missing.

Galliher’s family confirmed his death in a statement Friday. The Pittsfield, Massachusetts, native is survived by his wife Ivy and two sons, ages 2 and 7 weeks.

“Jake was an amazing father, son and brother dedicated to his family and friends,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and support are with the families of Jake’s fellow crew members who are dealing with this tragedy as well.”

Galliher was a military linguist fluent in Mandarin Chinese, the Berkshire Eagle in Massachusetts reported Thursday.

He is the 13th U.S. service member killed in an Osprey crash in the past two years. More than 50 people have died in Osprey mishaps since 1992, according to a database maintained by the Flight Safety Foundation.

Tor Krautter, Galliher’s stepfather, said in a public Facebook post Friday that the airman’s body had been identified and would be sent home.

The Air Force said Friday morning it had recovered the remains of one member of the eight-person, Japan-based crew that crashed during a training mission, but declined to answer whether Galliher was the lone airman found so far.

The Pentagon does not release the names of troops who are killed or injured until 24 hours after their next of kin are notified.

The military has declared the remaining seven airmen in “DUSTWUN” status, or “duty status — whereabouts unknown.”

Several military and civilian search-and-rescue units have continued scouring the water and coastline around the island of Yakushima, Japan, where the tiltrotor Osprey went down. The cause of the mishap remains unknown.

The downed crew was assigned to the U.S. Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Wing at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. The wing’s 21st Special Operations Squadron flies the Osprey, a long-range transport and supply aircraft, on emergency airlift and disaster-response missions around the Pacific.

The squadron has stopped flight operations, Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said Friday.

Wednesday’s accident is the first fatal incident involving an Air Force-owned CV-22 since 2010. The crash may become the service’s deadliest since 2018, when nine Puerto Rico Air National Guard troops died in a WC-130 weather reconnaissance plane crash.

The crash also marks the second deadly U.S. special operations mission in November, after five soldiers died Nov. 10 in a MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Krautter told the Berkshire Eagle that Galliher’s family believes the U.S. military missed an opportunity to ground the Osprey fleet after another crash off the coast of Australia killed three U.S. Marines in August — the third deadly Osprey accident since March 2022.

“The message that we want to get out to anyone that’s willing to listen, is, ‘How many more of our service members need to die on those damn planes?’” Krautter said.

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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