SAN DIEGO, Naval Base North Island – Lt. Cmdr. Landon L. Jones, 35. of Lompoc, Calif., and Chief Warrant Officer Jonathon S. Gibson, 32, of Aurora, Ore, were conducting a landing on the deck of guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG110) when their U.S. Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter crashed in the central Red Sea on September 22 .
Both sailors were assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Six at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, Calif.
Vice Adm. David H. Buss, commander, Naval Air Forces commented on the tragedy,
“The loss of two pilots from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Six is a loss for our entire Naval Aviation family. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the families, friends and shipmates of those lost and I can assure you, we will do everything… possible to support them.
I would ask all Americans to pause today and reflect on this loss and the price paid by these families here in San Diego and for all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.”
Lt Cmdr. Jones and CWO Gibson, members of the Nimitz Carrier Strike group, were working in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Three other crew and passengers are accounted for - one which has a minor ankle injury. Despite extensive search and rescue efforts by various ships and aircraft, Jones and Gibson were not found and Navy officials concluded, “given the time elapsed from the incident, aircrew survivability was extremely unlikely”.
According to a statement released from Lt. Reagan Lauritzen, Public Affairs Officer for Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S Pacific Fleet, “The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is operating in the Red Sea as a prudent positioning of forces should the capabilities of the strike group be needed there, and it places that group in a position to conduct maritime security operations and exercises with our partners in that part of the region.”
Lt Cmdr. Jones graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis Md., and was commissioned in 2001. He received flight training in the Navy and was a Naval Aviator, operating in various helicopter squadrons, including maritime strike squads and sea combat squadrons.
His exemplary service earned him impressive awards, including: Global War on Terror and Global War on Terror Expeditionary medals, a National Defense Medal, three Navy/ Marine Corps Achievement Medals and one Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
CWO Gibson left Recruit Training Command in 1999 and became an Aviation Operations Technician/Naval Aviator, operating in helicopter anti-submarine squadrons with a stint at HSM Weapons School Pacific and Naval Aviator Flight Training in 2009, serving more recently in sea combat squadrons. He earned multiple awards including; a Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon, three Good Conduct Medals, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, two Navy/Marine Achievement Medals and a Naval Aircrew Warfare Specialist Breast Insignia.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
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