H-LOMPOC

Sep 25, 2013 8:27 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Navy pilot died doing what he loved

We are learning more about a Navy pilot from Lompoc who died Sunday in a helicopter crash in the Red Sea. Lieutenant Commander Landon Jones, 35, was killed when the chopper crashed during a landing on the deck of a naval destroyer. KSBY spoke with Lt. Commander Jones' younger brother, Lompoc police officer Nolan Jones. He says his brother died serving his country and doing what he always loved. From the first time Nolan Jones and his older brother, Landon, saw the movie "Top Gun," Nolan says he always knew his brother would end up in the air. That dream took off when Landon was accepted to the US Naval Academy. He quickly excelled through the ranks, becoming Lt Commander, flying the MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter. "They performed many types of missions such as search and rescue, support of fixed wing flight operations," said Lt. Commander Ryan Hayes, another MH-60S pilot. "They also handled a host of combat mission capabilities including anti-surface warfare, combat search and rescue, and support of special operations forces." Those assignments earned him multiple awards including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Commendation Medal. Those achievements didn't come without the inherent risks. "Each flight you do has both known and unknown risks," said Lt. Commander Hayes. "Everybody that joins military service, and especially aviators, we're putting our service to our nation first. We assume risks and our families support us in doing those things, ‘cause there's a greater good in what we do." Jones was recently asked to be the Operations Officer for the chopper squadron aboard the USS Nimitz. "Operations Officer for a squadron is a highly competitive billet, and is a very significant career milestone billet for naval aviators," said Hayes. Lt. Commander Jones is survived by a wife and two young boys. An investigation into the cause of the crash is still ongoing; however, the military says it was not due to hostile activity. The US Navy says a memorial service will be held aboard the USS Nimitz and local memorial plans are currently being worked out.

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