USS Ronald Reagan holds memorial service at sea

A memorial service in honor of the life and service of Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Matthew Chialastri, Lt. Steven Combs and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso was held aboard the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Nov. 26.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Matthew Chialastri, from Louisiana, joined the Navy on June 25, 2014. After leaving Recruit Training Command, he began his active duty career with VP-30, a P-8 training squadron, before reporting to duty on USS America (LHA 6), where he served from Dec. 1, 2015 to Oct. 1, 2017. He arrived at Commander Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan (CFAY), and checked into Ronald Reagan’s shore detachment, Reagan Ranch, on Nov. 5, 2017 to begin his preparations to join Ronald Reagan underway.

Lt. Steven Combs, from Florida, received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Colorado in 2011, earning a Bachelor of Science in Finance. In March of 2015, he reported to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, forward-deployed to Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, Japan. He deployed with Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW) 5 aboard both USS George Washington (CVN 73) and Ronald Reagan, where he served as detachment assistant operations officer and administrative officer. Combs accumulated over 1,200 flight hours and 100 carrier-arrested landings.

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso, from Florida, graduated from West Florida High School of Advanced Technology in the spring of 2017 and then reported to Naval Station Great Lakes for recruit training. After graduating boot camp, he attended “A” school in Pensacola, Florida, and received orders to Ronald Reagan. He arrived at CFAY and checked in to Reagan Ranch on Nov. 5, 2017 to begin his preparations to join his first ship underway.

There were eleven crew and passengers aboard a C-2A Greyhound of VRC-30 when it crashed into the ocean approximately 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa, Nov. 22. Eight were immediately recovered. The aircraft was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to Ronald Reagan.

“The loss of these crew members hits across the entire ship with great significance,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “On behalf of the entire crew of USS Ronald Reagan, I extend heartfelt prayers and sincere condolences to the families and friends of the three shipmates we lost.”

The memorial service included remarks by Donnelly and Capt. Michael Wosje, commander, CVW-5; a presentation of biographies of the lost Sailors by chaplains assigned to Ronald Reagan and CVW-5; personal reflections by Sailors who knew the deceased; and performances of Amazing Grace and Taps.

“I wish everyone had a chance to meet Chialastri like my friends and I had,” said Seaman Cody Carr, a Sailor who reported to Reagan Ranch around the same time as Chialastri. “Even when things were not going well, he still had a way to make light of it and laugh about it, and in doing so, made others able to laugh about it as well. That’s a quality I admire about Chialastri.”

“The loss of one of our pilots weighs heavily on the entire Carrier Air Wing Five team. Lt. Combs will always be remembered as a hero,” said Wosje. “I am proud to have flown with him.”

“AOAA Bryan Grosso was someone who was not only a shipmate, but a good friend to me and many other members of our class from the Reagan Ranch,” said Ship’s Serviceman Seaman Apprentice Byron Arndt, a Sailor who reported to Reagan Ranch around the same time as Grosso. “What I like about Bryan was that he’s an outgoing, kind, and caring person, always willing to be there for his friends and shipmates. Even if he didn’t know too much about the topic of discussion, Bryan would always listen and pay attention to what we had to say. Then if he had anything to say about it, he would offer his advice and opinion. I really respected that.”
The memorial ended with a procession of crew pausing in front of photos of the Sailors in remembrance and farewell.

The C-2A was assigned to the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment Five, forward-deployed to NAF Atsugi, Japan. Detachment Five’s mission includes the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and Distinguished Visitors between Ronald Reagan and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia theaters.

The incident is under investigation.