U.S. Navy identifies 3 sailors missing after plane crash off Japan
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
Breaking News Emails
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
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."
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.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Grosso, also from Florida, and Chialastri, from Louisiana, were assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan and had also been awarded the National Defense Ribbon.
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."
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.
Courtney Kube is a correspondent covering national security and the military for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.
Saphora Smith is a London-based reporter for NBC News Digital.