Members of the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 returned to Virginia Beach on Thursday for an emotional homecoming.
The homecoming happened one week after two members of squadron were killed after their F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed in Key West, Florida.
U.S. Navy officials said Lt. Cdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King were found in the water after the crash, about a mile from Naval Air Station Key West. The two men later died at a hospital.
Speaking at Naval Air Station Oceana, Cdr. Kevin Robb, VFA-213 commanding officer, said Johnson and King served “with humility, toughness and a genuine care for the sailors in their stead.”
“Our entire command mourns the loss of these two patriots,” Robb said.
Johnson, who piloted the super hornet, from the Air Force Academy in 2007. King graduated from the Naval Academy five years ago, and was the weapons systems operator.
The crash remains under investigation
The “Blacklions” were initially scheduled to return Wednesday, but Navy officials pushed it back due to the weather.