LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Steve Sax has issued a statement that his 33-year-old son, who had always dreamed of becoming a pilot, was among the five US Marines killed in a training flight crash earlier this week in were killed in the Californian desert.
Capt. John J. Sax was part of the crew of an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that crashed while training in a remote area of Imperial County about 115 miles (185 kilometers) east of San Diego and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Yuma . Arizona.
“It is with utter shock that I announce that my precious son Johnny was one of the five US Marines who… CBSLA TV.
“Those of you who knew Johnny, you saw his big smile, bright light, love for his family, the Marines, joy in flying airplanes and defending our country! He was my hero and the best man I know, there was no better person to defend our country.”
The former Dodger said his son had wanted to be a pilot since he was a kid and would talk about the types of planes that flew overhead while he played outfield in little league baseball.
“From an early age there was no doubt Johnny would become a pilot and his passion was flying!” the statement said. “This loss will change my life forever and is a loss not just to the Marines but to this world!”
Steve Sax played in the major leagues from 1981 to 1994 and won two world championships in his seven years as a second baseman with the Dodgers.
John J. Sax of Placer, California was one of two pilots who died in the crash along with Captain Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire.
Also killed were three tiltrotor crew chiefs: Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico.
The Marines were based at Camp Pendleton and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 of Marine Aircraft Group 39, part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
The Osprey, a hybrid airplane and helicopter, flew in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but was criticized by some for being unsafe. It is designed to take off like a helicopter, rotate its propellers to a horizontal position, and fly like an airplane.
The cause of the crash was under investigation.
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