Patrick Ardaiz, navigator on plane that crashed during Bosnia flight

March 28, 1993|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Staff Writer

Lt. Patrick J. Ardaiz wanted to be a Navy pilot and fly combat jets, but subpar eyesight made him settle on being a navigator aboard Navy planes.

"And he became good at it because he loved doing it," said his brother Sean. "He loved the Navy. He and his colleagues were like family."

Lieutenant Ardaiz, 28, of Towson, was one of five Navy crew members killed Thursday when their radar plane crashed as it returned to an aircraft carrier after monitoring airdrops of relief supplies to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The E-2C aircraft on which Lieutenant Ardaiz was navigator crashed in the sea near Crotone, Italy, as it returned to the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy said.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

Lieutenant Ardaiz, who was single, was a graduate of Calvert Hall High School and the University of Maryland at College Park, where he majored in Spanish.

"He went into the Navy after college. He wanted to be a pilot, but he wore glasses, or contacts, but he still wanted to be up there" in planes, said Sean Ardaiz, who added that his brother had been in the Navy for about five years.

Lieutenant Ardaiz served in the Persian Gulf war two years ago.

"He flew in the radar planes to protect the battleships and other warplanes," his brother said. "He was glad to participate. He wanted to participate. He received numerous citations and awards during the Persian Gulf war, even from the Saudis."

Lieutenant Ardaiz's plane went down about a mile from the aircraft carrier in international waters, about 65 miles from the coast of Crotone, a Navy spokesman said. The United States has been airdropping supplies to eastern Bosnian villages since February to help besieged Muslims.

Stephen Honda, a spokesman for the Navy's Atlantic air force, said he did not know if the deaths would be attributed to U.S. involvement in the former Yugoslav republic.

Lieutenant Ardaiz, the oldest of three sons, was stationed in Norfolk, Va., and only on occasion came back to Towson. His father, Dr. Jose Ardaiz, died last month, and Lieutenant Ardaiz came home and handled much of the funeral arrangements.

Sean Ardaiz said that his brother and fellow crewmen were very close, both on duty and off.

"They were always together. The Navy was pretty much his life," he said.

In three months, Lieutenant Ardaiz was scheduled to change his tour of duty to Australia.

"He was looking forward to it. We were looking forward to it," his brother said. "We got films of what it was like. We were thinking of going down there, too."

Sean Ardaiz said his brother would have appreciated the concern the public has shown in the death of the Navy crew.

"The five were best of friends, all trying to do their best," Mr. Ardaiz said. "Pat felt good about what he did, and he would have felt bad if a crew went down and nobody paid attention."

Funeral plans are incomplete.

In addition to Sean Ardaiz, Lieutenant Ardaiz's survivors include his mother, Sheila Ardaiz, and another brother, Michael Ardaiz, all of Towson.

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