Navy officials have identified the two aviators killed March 14 when their F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on final approach to Naval Air Station Key West in Florida.
Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King were killed in the crash. Both were assigned to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron 213, based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia.
The pilot, Johnson, was a naval aviator and 2007 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was at the jet’s controls at the time of the mishap.
King, a 2012 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was flying in the rear seat as the weapons systems operator.
Navy officials said late Thursday that the aircraft was on final approach to the base from a routine training mission when the mishap occurred.
“The entire Blacklion family is grieving the loss of two great Americans,” said VFA-213’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Kevin Robb. “Lt. Cmdr. Johnson and Lt. King were phenomenal young men, exceptional naval aviators, and were living models of what honor, courage, and commitment really mean.
“As warfighters they excelled in combat,” Robb added. “As naval officers they exemplified the qualities of what our Navy values most dear. I was extremely proud to have led, flown, and served with both Brice and Caleb.”