‘They’re still flying together, together forever’ Vets react to Navy fatal jet crash

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - After two Oceana-based naval aviators were killed during a training mishap, the veteran community is offering condolences to the families of the deceased.

Bob Esemberg is an Army veteran who was having a beer at the VFW Post Thursday afternoon when News 3 asked him for his reaction to the crash. "Anytime you lose a brother or sister in the military, it tough because you’re really like a big family," he said.

Esemberg, like many Hampton Roads residents, hear the jet noise daily which is second-nature for this military community who know the training must be continuous in order to have the strongest Navy on the planet. "We think they’re still together, flying together forever," said Esemberg.

Allen Page, a 23-year Navy veteran was also at the VFW post and said he was frustrated yesterday with the lack of information in recent reports saying he did not know whether to celebrate the rescue or mourn a loss.

Once the reports confirmed the two aviators had died, Page said he worked with squadrons long enough to know what had happened. "I think it was a malfunction of the aircraft and the aircraft was in jeopardy and they were trying to figure out what was going on as it turned," he guessed.

Page said the videos he saw made him think the pilot and weapons officer must have ejected too late; "normally they shoot up and out, they have a parachute and they come down. This one the parachute didn’t open and they went into the ocean."

The Navy is still investigating the mishap and not releasing the names of the two sailors until Thursday night.

Condolences are being sent to the families of the two aviators who died and the veteran community said they feel confident the other sailors and spouses in the squadron will care for the families left behind.

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Witnesses of fatal Oceana-based Navy jet mishap describe crash