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U.S. Navy identifies 3 sailors missing after plane crash off Japan

by Courtney Kube, Phil Helsel and Saphora Smith /  / Updated 
Image: Sailors
Lt. Steven Combs, a native of Florida, was assigned to the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) as part of Carrier Air Wing Five.US Navy

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The U.S. Navy has identified the three missing sailors unaccounted for after a plane crash in the Philippine Sea, the 7th Fleet said in a statement Saturday.

Lt. Steven Combs, Airman Matthew Chialastri and Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso have been named as the sailors lost in the C-2A Greyhound crash on Wednesday. Their families have been notified, the Navy said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these Sailors," said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander of the U.S.'s 7th Fleet, which is based in Japan. "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."

Image: Lt. Steven Combs
Lt. Steven Combs, a native of Florida, was assigned to the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) as part of Carrier Air Wing Five.US Navy

Combs, originally from Florida, was part of the Carrier Air Wing Five, which is attached to the USS Ronald Reagan, the aircraft carrier where the plane was headed at the time of the crash. His awards include the National Defense Ribbon and the Navy Battle E Ribbon.

Grosso, also from Florida, and Chialastri, from Louisiana, were assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan and had also been awarded the National Defense Ribbon.

The search and rescue efforts for the sailors was suspended at 10 a.m. local time Friday (8 p.m. Thursday ET.)

Image: Airman Matthew Chialastri
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Matthew Chialastri, a native of Louisiana, was assigned to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).US Navy

Eleven people were on board the plane when it plunged into the ocean. Eight sailors were rescued within 45 minutes of the crash about 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa Island at around 2:45 p.m. (12:45 a.m. ET) Wednesday, the Navy has said.

"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 in a statement.

"We are thankful for our professional search and rescue teams and their incredible bravery."

Wosje added that the Navy would "remain focused on our mission to operate forward in a safe and professional manner to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region."

Image: Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso, a native of Florida was assigned to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)US Navy

The Navy is still investigating the cause of the crash.

The plane was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to the USS Ronald Reagan at the time of the crash, according to the Navy.

The eight sailors rescued are in good condition, the Navy said.

The search for the missing sailors covered nearly 1,000 nautical miles and involved eight U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships as well as three helicopter squadrons and maritime patrol aircraft, the Navy said.

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