Funeral held for locally based Navy pilot killed in Florida jet crash

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - One of the two locally-based U.S. Navy aviators who died after a training mishap in Key West was laid to rest Friday afternoon.

Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King died March 14 when their F/A-18 Super Hornet went down one mile off the runway on final approach to Boca Chica Field, Naval Air Station, Key West.

Both men were assigned to VFA-213 at Naval Air Station Oceana. The squadron was in Key West for training.

Lt. Cmdr. Johnson's life will be remembered in Virginia Beach.

According to his obituary, Johnson’s funeral was held at the Virginia Beach United Methodist Church at 2 p.m. After the funeral, full military honors and a missing man flyover will be held at the Oceanfront.

Loved ones said he departed this world doing exactly what he loved in service to this great country.

Lt. Cdr. Johnson, nicknamed `Drama,` was an Air Force Academy graduate. Most recently, he had deployed in January 2017 and carried out strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He was awarded the air medal for his aerial performance in combat.

VFA-213 returned to Oceana from Key West on Thursday.

It was somber day since Johnson and Lieutenant Caleb King didn’t come home with them.

"In that healing we continue on with our mission and we get back to the business of naval aviation standing ready to project combat power anywhere in the world as our country directs,” VFA-213 Commanding Officer Kevin Robb said. “To do anything less would disappoint the two heroes we lost last week."

King’s funeral will be Saturday in Florida. A memorial service will be held next Friday in Virginia Beach.

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