Navy pilot killed in Pacific crash remembered by Berkshire skiers

November 27, 2017 06:27 PM

Dalton - Lt. Steven Combs had accumulated 1,200 flight hours in the cockpit for the Navy over his career.

But before flying, Steven Combs grew up a skier in the Berkshires.

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"He loved to ski, he was real passionate about it. He was a strong athlete. When he wasn't training or racing, he was out skiing, just having fun, having a ball up there," said Gary Bradway, U-19 Ski Coach at Jiminy Peak.

Gary Bradway was shocked when he saw Combs face again in the news.  Bradway coached Combs for eight years at Jiminy Peak. Then the young man went off to the University of Colorado and eventually joined the Navy.  

Back while Combs was in high school at Saint Joseph's in Pittsfield, Bradway spent countless weekends practicing and racing. He says ski teams become families.

"He was always the fun person to be around. He's a real positive person. Always one of the first racers to be on the hill, for a race, or training. He was just a great kid," said Bradway.

The Navy is still investigating why the plane went down on Wednesday.

It was a C-2A Greyhound like this one, making a routine cargo transport flight from a US base in Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan.

11 people were on board. Eight survived and were rescued.

Our media partners at the Berkshire Eagle talked to Steven's sister Elizabeth Combs, who says the Navy told the family Steven landed the plane on the water, which it isn't built to do it, saving eight of the passenger's lives.  

Combs' two sisters and parents have moved out of the area.  The lieutenant was supposed to return home for his sister's wedding in about three weeks, but it has been cancelled because of his death.

There are lots of questions left about what happened over the Pacific, and lots of memories of a smiling hometown skier in Berkshire County.



WNYT Staff

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