Naval Academy graduate missing, presumed dead after Pacific crash

September 15, 2014|By Matthew Hay Brown | The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON — — The Navy identified the pilot Monday who went missing last week after a crash over the Pacific Ocean as Lt. Nathan Poloski, a 2009 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Poloski, 26, of Lake Arrowhead, Calif., is presumed dead, officials said.

"Nathan was an outstanding person, naval officer and aviator," Navy Cmdr. Michael Langbehn, the commanding officer of Poloski's squadron, said in a statement. "My personal thoughts and prayers are for his family, friends and shipmates as they endure this immeasurable loss."

The Naval Academy planned to lower the brigade flag to half-staff and hold the traditional meal of remembrance, dedicated to Poloski.

"We're proud to have called this young officer our shipmate here," said Cmdr. John Schofield, the academy spokesman. "We join Lt. Nathan Poloski's family and friends in grieving this heartbreaking loss."

Poloski was piloting an F/A-18C Hornet combat jet on "routine flight operations" off the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the western Pacific Ocean on Friday when his aircraft apparently collided with another Hornet, officials said.

Both jets crashed, but the pilot of the other Hornet was quickly located and received medical attention, officials said. His name has not been released.

The Navy launched a search for Poloski, using the Carl Vinson, four other ships, helicopters, jets and satellite imagery to cover more than 3,000 square miles, officials said.

The effort failed to locate any remains and was called off Saturday, officials said. Poloski was declared "presumed deceased" on Sunday.

Both pilots were assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., officials said. Poloski reported to the squadron in April.

Officials said the squadron, Carrier Air Wing 17, and the Carl Vinson will hold a memorial service aboard the carrier to honor the life and service of Poloski at a date and time to be determined.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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