Aviator killed in crash knew well the traditions of the Navy Academy graduate will be buried Friday

November 11, 1998|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

Thursday night, Jim and Carolyn Duffy shared a bottle of wine and a steak dinner at a Norfolk, Va., restaurant with their youngest son, 27-year-old Brendan.

The next day, they stood on a pier watching the USS Enterprise lumber off to a six-month tour of duty in the Persian Gulf. They returned that night to their Annapolis home, proud to know Brendan was doing what he loved.

Carolyn Duffy had stood many times on such piers, watching her husband deploy to some far-off place. Once, she stood at pier's end with three children and pregnant with Brendan. Jim Duffy returned home just in time for the birth.

Brendan Duffy was born at a Rhode Island naval station, and later lived at the Naval Academy, where his father taught.

Nothing stopped Brendan Duffy from aspiring to be an aviator like his father.

Despite less-than-perfect eyesight that kept him from becoming a pilot, Brendan Duffy graduated from the Naval Academy in 1995, went to flight school in Pensacola, Fla., and became a naval flight officer.

His plane was the EA-6B Prowler, a four-seater packed with high-tech electronic equipment that jammed enemy radar.

Duffy sat beside the pilot. That's where he was Sunday, as his squadron did training runs before heading across the Atlantic.

On Sunday, two hours past sunset, Brendan Duffy's plane approached the Enterprise.

The Prowler touched down, but struck another plane on the deck, an S-3 Viking. The two Viking crew members ejected and their parachutes popped open. One landed in the water and was rescued. The other's parachute got caught on the ship's radar.

Duffy, his pilot and two back-seat crew members also ejected.

Three were lost at sea and presumed dead.

Duffy's body was recovered immediately.

Duffy's funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Naval Academy Chapel. He will be interred at the academy's columbarium.

Pub Date: 11/11/98

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