When Homecoming Day Doesn't Happen - A post about the C-2a Crash
When I went to bed on Nov. 21, 2017, I sent a "goodnight and have a safe flight" text to my husband who was flying to Japan for a few days. When I woke up the next morning the first thing I read was, "Navy Aircraft Crash into the sea southeast of Okinawa". My heart dropped, I held my breath and a few clicks later I was informed of the type of aircraft, a C-2A Greyhound. And while at this point I knew it wasn't my husband's aircraft my heart was still breaking to pieces. 3 sailors were still missing.
I didn't make a facebook status, an Instagram post, or write a blog. I simply prayed and shed tears for the family and friends of the missing. I just couldn't bring myself to publically acknowledge this tragedy. As days passed and the Navy called off the search, friends who knew some of these people personally posted memorial posts, and Navy spouse pages started asking about memorial funds, scholarship funds, memorial pages, cards, flowers, and support for families I just shed tears.
When the names were released I sat in my room with my best friend and cried. I finally let it all out. I didn't know a single one, but I know so many like them. That C2 pilot with the big joyous smile, those young men just starting their Navy careers with such bright futures ahead of them. The aviation community in the Navy is small and tight. Soon my facebook friends were sharing personal stories of happy times, joyous laughter, dreams they shared. And the knowledge that these service members families had been informed of the news shattered my heart. Each of these tragedies is a reminder that while Military Homecoming days are definitely my favorite days ever, sometimes those joyous homecomings don't happen.
I decided to write this post not because I felt like sharing my sadness, but because I was sharing beautiful joyful photos this week. You see, my Instagram posts are scheduled weeks in advance. All I have to do is re-read the post and click, "post now". The week of Thanksgiving and this week I had a whole set of super joyful homecomings posts to share. And when I opened them to reread they were all c2 families reuniting, hugging, shedding tears of happiness and love. While I usually look at my posts for a few seconds, reread captions and hit 'post' these past two weeks all I could do was stare. Stare at these beautiful families that I love so much. These families that have entrusted me to capture their joyous moments and share their stories. These are my people, and their story deserves to be shared, to be heard.
So today I'm sharing their names just once more. So that we can remember their lives, their sacrifices.
Lt. Steven Combs
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman Matthew Chialastri
Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso
There was a memorial aboard the USS Ronald Reagan this past Sunday. I encourage each of you to read this article > http://wtkr.com/2017/11/27/memorial-service-held-at-sea-on-uss-ronald-reagan-for-three-sailors-missing-in-plane-crash/ to learn more about these 3 brave men.
I will be editing this blog post to add links to memorial funds, scholarship funds, and any links to help out the families of these men. As of now (Dec. 1), no link has been confirmed but I will share as soon as they are.
As of now I just encourage you to look into and donate to www.wingmanfoundation.org. Their mission is amazing and should be supported now more than ever.
Also, if you knew Deet (Lt. Combs) personally or have worked with him over his Navy career and have a story or photo you'd love to share with his family, please send that story to TributesToDeet@gmail.com.
My heart, prayers, and condolances are all with the family, friends of these fallen service members as well as with VRC-30, Det5, and the C2 community.