After weeks of searching, the U.S. military and Japan wrapped up search, rescue and salvage operations for the CV-22 Osprey that crashed near Japan in November. Although large search teams found the remains of seven of the eight Air Force Special Operations Command crew members as well as much of the Osprey, one airman’s remains were not located.
Air Force Special Operations Command announced the end of search and salvage operations on Jan. 11.
“While it is with tremendous deep regret that we were unable to find our last teammate, Maj. Eric Spendlove, the combined joint efforts of our Japanese allies and U.S. military forces has been inspiring to see the lengths our forces will go in order to attempt to bring a teammate home,” Rear Adm. Jeromy Williams, Commander Special Operations Command Pacific, said in an AFSOC statement.
The “Gundam 22” mission as it was called had eight Air Force Special Operations Command airmen onboard when it crashed into the waters on Nov. 29. The Osprey crashed near Yakushima Island, on the southern end of Japan.
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The one airman whose remains were not found, Maj. Eric “Doc “Spendlove,” served as the Special Operations Flight Surgeon and Medical Operations Flight Commander for the 1st Special Operations Squadron, 3534 Special Operations Wing.
“Our main priority since the mishap has been locating and bringing our Heroes back to their families. After over a month of exhausting air, surface, sub-surface, and modeling and simulation assets, we have ruled out all identified possible options to recover our teammate.” Williams’ statement continued. “Our thoughts remain with the families and squadron mates of our CV-22 aircrew and we extend our sincerest gratitude to every asset who assisted in the search.”
The other members of the Gundam 22 crew were Maj. Jeffrey “Jeff” Hoernemann, Maj. Luke Unrath, Capt. Terrell “Terry” Brayman, Tech Sgt. Zachary Lavoy, Staff Sgt. Jake Turnage, Senior Airman Brian “Kody” Johnson and Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” Galliher.
According to the Air Force, the more than 40-day search covered tens of thousands of square kilometers and involved dozens of aircraft, 23 ships and more than 1,000 personnel.
The cause of the November crash remains under investigation. AFSOC said that with search and rescue operations concluded, it has found most of the pieces of the Osprey and is trying to determine the cause of the mishap. Earlier this month the Osprey’s black box was recovered.
After the Nov. 29 crash, Air Force Special Operations Command grounded its Osprey fleet. The U.S. Marine Corps soon followed. The stand down is still in effect.
The crash near Japan is one of several fatal aviation mishaps this year, including others involving the Osprey. A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey crashed near Australia in August, killing three onboard.
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