Western Mass. native mourned after dying in military aircraft crash off the coast of Japan

Western Mass. native mourned after dying in military aircraft crash off the coast of Japan

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Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” Galliher is survived by his wife and their two young sons — a 2-year-old and an infant.

The family of a U.S. Air Force member and Pittsfield native killed in an Osprey crash off the coast of Japan last week is remembering the young airman as “an incredible son, brother, husband, father and friend to so many.”

Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” Galliher, 24, was one of eight crew members aboard the CV-22 Osprey, which went down during a routine training mission off of Yakushima Island on Wednesday, according to the Yokota Air Base. 

The cause of the crash is under investigation, though an eyewitness told Japanese broadcaster NHK that the aircraft appeared to roll over mid-flight and that a fire broke out from the propeller on its left wing before it went down.

Galliher’s remains were the first to be recovered following the crash. 

Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” Galliher, 24, was killed when the CV-22 Osprey he was on crashed during a routine training mission off Japan last Wednesday. – Pittsfield Police Department/Facebook
He entered active duty shortly after graduating from Taconic High School in 2017 and was a direct support operator, serving as an airborne linguist specializing in Mandarin Chinese, the Yokota Air Base said. 

Galliher is survived by his wife, Ivy, and their two sons — a 2-year-old and an infant, according to the Pittsfield Police Department. 

“His short life touched and made better the lives of hundreds, if not thousands in Pittsfield, in this region and everywhere he served,” his family said in a statement. “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.”

The Air Force described Galliher as a “consummate intelligence professional and dedicated academic,” noting that he was recognized with several medals and awards during his career. He will be remembered for his dedication “to this great nation and his fellow warriors,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gilbert Summers, commander of the 43d Intelligence Squadron, Detachment 1, where Galliher served.

“With a ready smile, Jake brought the unit together on and off-duty through humor and an inexhaustible supply of energy, whether it was on the aircraft, in the gym, or on the slopes with the team,” Summers said in a statement. “Everywhere he went, and everyone he met, was made better for him being there. He has left an indelible mark as a devoted family man, steadfast wingman, and an irreplaceable Airman in both duty and compassion. Jacob’s tremendous legacy will live on through his beautiful family and through all of us who had the honor of knowing him.”

Back home in Western Mass., tributes to Galliher came pouring in following the crash. 

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer described Galliher as a “deeply beloved member of this community.”

“Jake will always be a son of Pittsfield and a hero to our nation,” Tyer wrote on Facebook. 

Galliher’s best friend, Air Force Staff Sgt. Edward Dobransky, told The Berkshire Eagle that the airman was someone to admire.

“Jake really never showed a negative demeanor, always had a positive attitude, contributed in the environments around him, and exemplified the attributes of a family man,” Dobransky told the newspaper. “I looked up to Jake in more ways than one. We lost a superhuman when we lost Jake.”

Taconic High School, where Galliher was a star football player, remembered his “exemplary character, leadership qualities” and “kind, fun-loving spirit.”

“The news of his tragic and untimely passing has left Taconic in mourning, as we reflect on the loss of a bright and promising individual who embodied the values that we hope to instill in all of our students,” the school stated on Facebook. 

Officials from around Massachusetts also offered their condolences. 

“I’m heartbroken to learn of the passing of Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher, who lost his life while proudly serving his country. My thoughts are with his family, especially his two young sons, and the Berkshire County community as they mourn the loss of one of their best and brightest,” Gov. Maura Healey said in a statement. “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.”

Veterans Services Secretary Jon Santiago said Massachusetts’ military community will honor Galliher’s legacy. 

“The Galliher family is enduring every service family’s nightmare, and we hold them in our hearts and prayers as they grieve,” Santiago said in a statement. “May his memory serve as a source of solace and strength to his family, friends, and fellow servicemembers.”

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, whose district includes Pittsfield, shared in the Western Mass. community’s mourning.

“As a father, my heart goes out to Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher’s mother and father during this difficult time,” he said in a statement. “Any parent will tell you there is no greater pain than the pain of losing a child, and Jacob Galliher was beloved by all. Staff Sgt. Galliher represented our nation’s best, enlisting in the Air Force right out of high school and committing himself to serving his country. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his mother, father, wife, and two sons. The Pittsfield community and a grateful nation mourns the loss of Jacob Galliher.”

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