Air Force shares details on eight airmen killed in CV-22 Osprey crash

The crew included pilots, a medical operations flight commander, an engineer and a linguist trained in Mandarin Chinese.
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TOP ROW: Maj. Jeffrey T. Hoernemann; Maj. Luke A. Unrath; Staff Sgt. Jake M. Galliher; Senior Airman Brian K. Johnson. BOTTOM ROW: Staff Sgt. Jake M. Turnage; Tech. Sgt. Zachary E. Lavoy; Capt. Terrell K. Brayman; Maj. Eric V. Spendlove. (photos courtesy Air Force Special Operations Command)

The crew of Gundam 22 were from everywhere.

They were from California and New York and Ohio. The were from suburbs in Florida and Georgia and Minnesota. They were from rural towns in Massachusetts and Utah. They went to Medical school in Kentucky and ran college track in North Dakota and were hometown high school football stars that skipped college to join the Air Force. In uniform, they were pilots and crew, doctors and medics and Chinese linguists and at least half of them were honor graduates of the mililtary training courses that led to their prescence on a secretive Air Force special operations flight on November 29.

Their CV-22 Osprey, flying as “Gundam 22,” crashed off Yakushima Island in Japan, killing all eight crew members.

The remains of seven of the eight crew members have been recovered so far. The Air Force released biographical information on all eight members of the crew, sharing more about the lives of the airmen onboard.

The crew of the Gundam 22 was larger than the usual CV-22 loadout. An Osprey can fly with just two pilots and two flight engineers, but often carries more crew depending on the mission. 

The airmen on the Gundam 22 were: 

Maj. Jeffrey “Jeff” T. Hoernemann, 32: Originally from Andover, Minnesota, Maj. Hoernemann was a CV-22 instructor pilot, chief of Weapons and Tactics for the 21st Special Operations Squadron and a graduate of the Air Force Weapons and Tactics Instructor course. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University, where he was on the cross country running team.

According to a speech by his hometown Congressman, Rep. Tom Emmert, Hoernemann was a triathlete and record setting runner in the 800 meters.

“Jeff was a beloved husband, brother and son, as well as an outstanding pilot and instructor,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tyler Oldham, 21st Special Operations Squadron commander. “Jeff was a true leader, SOF warrior and patriot. His character was the benchmark of officership in the United States Air Force. Jeff was the best of us.”

Hoernemann deployed multiple times to Afghanistan during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, and earned a number of awards including the Air and Space Achievement Medal, Air Medal with “C” Device and Aerial Achievement Medal. 

Maj. Luke A. Unrath, 34: Maj. Unrath was a native of RIverside, California, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 2013. After working asn Astronautical Engineer at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California he cross-trained in 2019 to become a CV-22 pilot. He was a an Aircraft Commander, communications officer and flight commander at the 21st Special Operations Squadron.

“Luke was a beloved husband, brother, and son, as well as an incredible leader and devout man of faith who embodied the core values,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tyler Oldham, 21st Special Operations Squadron commander. “His intelligence and work ethic served as examples for the squadron. Luke was a natural leader. People gravitated toward him and would follow him due to his cool, calm demeanor and high standards.”

Unrath’s awards include the Meritorious Service Medal and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

Maj. Eric “Doc” V. Spendlove, 36: A native of St. George, Utah, Maj. Spendlove was the Special Operations Flight Surgeon and Medical Operations Flight Commander for the 1st Special Operations Squadron, 3534d Special Operations Wing. He graduated from the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2016, entering active-duty service a year later and completed a three-year Family Medicine Residency Program at Saint Louis University in 2022.

“Eric exemplified the definition of a quiet professional with steadfast devotion to his family and profession,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Pellegrino, 21st Special Operations Squadron commander. “Eric was an incredible son, husband, brother, and father. He motivated others with enthusiastic energy in moments of exhaustion yet was always a calm voice of reason during times of uncertainty. His sense of humor could lighten the darkest of times.”

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Capt. Terrell “Terry” K. Brayman, 32: Originally from Pittsford, New York, Capt. Brayman was a CV-22 Aircraft Commander with the 21st Special Operations Squadron. He’d joined the Air Force in 2014 after graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in astronautical engineering. After service as a U-28A Draco pilot with the 34th Special Operations Squadron, he moved to flying Ospreys.

“Terry was a beloved brother and son, as well as a multitalented officer, skilled aviator, mission commander, and proven leader of teams,” said Lt. Col. Tyler Oldham, 21st Special Operation Squadron commander. “His calm and poise bore respect from his squadron mates. Terry was a naturally talented pilot and officer. His leadership qualities earned him respect from his peers on the ground and in the air.”

Brayman’s awards include the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal with Combat Device and Four Oak Leaf Clusters.

Tech Sgt. Zachary E. Lavoy, 33: Tech. Sgt. Lavoy was a native of Oviedo, Florida and joined the Air Force in 2013. He was the Medical Operations Flight Chief for the 1st Special Operations Squadron at Kadena Air Base. He earned his Community College of the Air Force degree in Allied Health Sciences in 2022 and was an Honor Graduate of Basic Military Training and Honor Graduate in the Independent Duty Medical Technician program.

“Zach was a compassionate medic with a steadfast devotion to supporting the needs of those around him,” said Lt. Col. Pellegrino. “He never stopped smiling and genuinely cared for his teammates. Zach was quick to make friends and sought out new experiences, often accompanied by his dog, truck, and friends. Zach treasured his fiance, parents, and brother dearly sharing stories with them no matter where he was in the world.”

Lavoy’s awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters.

Staff Sgt. Jake M Turnage, 25: Staff Sgt. Turnage was a native of Kennesaw, Georgia. He joined the Air Force in 2018 and was a special mission aviator on the Osprey. He was a lead Flight Engineer and NCO in charge of Training with the 21st Special Operations Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

“Jake was a beloved husband, brother and son, as well as a fun-loving and dedicated Noncommissioned Officer,” said Oldham. Jake’s humor and zeal were contagious. His magnetic personality was always uplifting and lightened the load of his squadron mates. He loved to fly and to learn.”

Turnage’s awards include the Air and Space Commendation Medal and Air and Space Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster.

Senior Airman Brian “Kody” Johnson, 32: Senior Airman Brian “Kody” Johnson was a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and joined the Air Force in 2018. He was a Special Missions Aviator on the CV-22 at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

“Kody was a beloved son, brother and uncle as well as an outstanding Special Mission Aviator,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tyler Oldham, 21st Special Operation Squadron commander. “Kody brought energy and focus into the organization. His tireless work ethic ensured that mission-essential tasks were performed correctly, on time, and without complaint.”

Johnson was a Honor Graduate at Basic Military Training and his awards include the Air Medal and Air and Space Commendation Medal,

Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” M. Galliher, 24: Staff Sgt. Galliher was a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He was trained as an Airborne Cryptologic Language Analyst, commonly called an airborne linguist, with a focus on Mandarin Chinese. He was assigned as a Direct Support Operator on the AC-130J, MC-130H, and CV-22B with the 43rd Intelligence Squadron, Detachment 1, based in Yokota Air Base.

He was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and maintaining proficiency in Chinese-Mandarin.

“Jacob was a beloved husband, father, son, and brother as well as a model Airman who will be forever remembered for his dedication to this great nation and his fellow warriors,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gilbert Summers, 43d Intelligence Squadron, Detachment 1 Commander. “With a ready smile, Jake brought the unit together on and off-duty through humor and an inexhaustible supply of energy, whether it was on the aircraft, in the gym, or on the slopes with the team. Everywhere he went, and everyone he met, was made better for him being there. He has left an indelible mark as a devoted family man, steadfast wingman, and an irreplaceable Airman in both duty and compassion.”

A football star in high school, Galliher joined the Air Force soon after graduating in 2017. He was an Honor Graduate of Basic Military Training, Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force’s Cryptologic Language Analyst Course and Honor Graduate of the Defense Language Institute’s Chinese Language Course.

In the aftermath of the Gundam 22 crash, both AFSOC and the Marine Corps have grounded their fleets of Ospreys. The AFSOC crash last month was the third fatal Osprey crash in the last two years; the other two involved Marine Corps MV-22s. According to AFSOC, the crash was likely caused by a mechanical failure with the aircraft, but the exact cause has not been determined. Japan also grounded its 14 Ospreys following the crash. 

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