‘Amazing father, son, brother’: Family mourning beloved Mass. airman killed in Osprey crash in Japan

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The U.S Air Force member who was killed in an Osprey crash off the coast of Japan on Wednesday has been identified as a father of two from Massachusetts.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” M. Galliher, 24, of Pittsfield, was one of eight crew members flying in an Osprey V-22 aircraft that crashed on Nov. 29 off Yakushima, an island south of Kagoshima on the southern main island of Kyushu, according to the U.S. Air Force and the Pittsfield Police Department.

Galliher was a Direct Support Operator assigned to the 43rd Intelligence Squadron, Detachment 1, Operating Location – Alpha, 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, according to the U.S. Air Force. 43 IS Det 1 OL-A is a tenant unit in support of the 353rd Special Operations Wing.

Galliher, a 2017 graduate of Taconic Vocational High School in Pittsfield, “served his country proudly,” Pittsfield Police said in a Facebook post. He enlisted in the Air Force in 2017.

While Galliher’s body has been identified, his seven crew members remain missing. Search and rescue operations are ongoing, according to the military.

In a statement, Galliher’s family said he leaves behind his beloved wife Ivy, two young sons ages 2 and 7 weeks old, loving family in Lanesborough, and countless friends, all of whom are “grappling with this profound loss.”

“Jake was an amazing father, son, and brother dedicated to his family and friends and we look forward to telling his story when the time is right,” his family said.

The family provided another statement on Saturday reading:

“Our family is mourning the loss of our beloved Jacob, who we have been informed died after the Osprey plane that was transporting him crashed off the coast of Japan. Jacob was an incredible son, brother, husband, father and friend to so many. His short life touched and made better the lives of hundreds, if not thousands in Pittsfield, in this region and everywhere he served. Jacob lived to serve his family, his country and the people he loved. We will in time have more to say about his life and its deep and lasting impact. For now, we are mourning and ask for privacy and prayers for his wife, his two amazing children and all of us while we grieve and prepare for his return home.”

—  family of Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher

Gov. Maura Healey said in a statement that she was “heartbroken” to learn of Galliher’s death and she extended her thoughts and prayers to his family.

“Here in Massachusetts, we are deeply grateful for the bravery and selflessness of our servicemembers, and our hearts go out to his colleagues in the Air Force on this devastating loss,” Healey said.

Secretary Jon Santiago, of the state’s Executive Office of Veterans Services, added, “The Galliher family is enduring every service family’s nightmare, and we hold them in our hearts and prayers as they grieve. May his memory serve as a source of solace and strength.”

The Osprey, a hybrid aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, was conducting a training mission at the time of the crash. During flight, it can rotate its propellers forward and cruise much faster like an airplane.

A fishing boat near the crash site off Yakushima discovered the wreckage, according to the Japanese Coast Guard.

Ospreys have had many accidents in the past. In the wake of this recent crash, Japan suspended flights by its Osprey aircraft Thursday but the Pentagon said U.S Ospreys continue to operate out of Japan.

The Osprey Galliher was in took off from Yokota Air Base and was assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Wing, according to the USAF.

The cause of Wednesday’s crash is still under investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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