The US Air Force on Saturday identified a Pittsfield native as one of the airmen who died in an Osprey crash off the coast of southern Japan earlier this past week as the search continued for seven other crew members.
US Air Force Staff Sergeant Jacob “Jake” M. Galliher, 24, died in the crash and his remains were recovered, the Air Force said.
Galliher, a married father of two young children, ages 2 years and 6 weeks, graduated from Taconic High School in 2017 and enlisted in the Air Force that same year, officials said. He was a direct support operator for a tenant unit out of Kadena Air Base in Japan, the Air Force said.
“Jacob was an incredible son, brother, husband, father and friend to so many,” his family said in a statement. “His short life touched and made better the lives of hundreds, if not thousands in Pittsfield, in this region and everywhere he served. Jacob lived to serve his family, his country and the people he loved.”
The family asked for privacy as “we grieve and prepare for his return home.”
Galliher and seven others were on a training mission when the CV-22 Osprey crashed in the ocean near Yakushima Island on Wednesday. The Air Force has not identified the other crew members. A search and rescue effort by US and Japanese forces to locate the missing airmen was ongoing Saturday.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, officials said.
In a statement on social media, Taconic High School said Galliher was “a dedicated and exceptional individual who touched the lives of many with his kindness and compassion.”
“He was an outstanding student, an integral member of our football program, and an active participant in our school community,” the statement said.
The Osprey had taken off from the US Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture and crashed on its way to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japanese officials said. The hybrid aircraft is designed to take off and land like a helicopter but can rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and cruise like an airplane.
The US-made aircraft have had multiple crashes in recent years, including a March 2022 crash in Norway that claimed the life of Marine Captain Ross Reynolds of Leominster and three others. A few months later, in June, Marine Captain Nicholas Losapio of Kensington, N.H., and four fellow Marines died when their Osprey crashed in a remote area near Glamis, Calif.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a statement Saturday expressing condolences for Galliher’s family and said she is “pressing the military for answers about this aircraft’s troubled history and action to keep airmen safe.”
“My heart breaks for his wife and two sons, and his family in Lanesborough, Massachusetts,” Warren said. “Staff Sgt. Galliher was a brave, smart, and talented young man who served his nation with honor.”
The Air Force said a US aircraft carrier and air wing, as well as divers and unmanned vehicles, have been involved in the search.
Rear Admiral Jeromy Williams, of the Air Force Special Operations Command, said in a statement Saturday, “U.S. and Japanese forces have come together in an extensive search to rescue our Airmen. We want to assure our air commandos’ families that our efforts will continue and include every possible capability at our disposal.”
US Senator Edward J. Markey said he was “deeply saddened by the tragic death” of Galliher.
“A son of Pittsfield and graduate of Taconic High School, Staff Sgt. Galliher served our nation with honor and pride,” Markey said in a statement. “This is a heartbreaking loss for the Commonwealth and our nation.”
US Representative Richard Neal, whose district includes Pittsfield, offered condolences to Galliher’s family in a statement Friday.
“As a father, my heart goes out to Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher’s mother and father during this difficult time. 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.”
The Pittsfield Police Department also honored Galliher in a message on the department’s Facebook page Friday.
“The Pittsfield Police Department extends its condolences to the family of U.S. Air Force member Jacob “Jake” Galliher, a 2017 graduate of Taconic H.S. Jake served his country proudly.”
Nick Stoico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.