Naval Aviator Killed, Another Injured in Eastern Mediterranean Crash

Story Number: NNS020304-07Release Date: 3/4/2002 1:00:00 PM
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By the Navy News Service

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy has identified the crew members of an F-14 Tomcat that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea March 2, after launching from USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Killed was the pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Christopher M. Blaschum, 33, of Virginia Beach, Va., who had accumulated more than 2,700 flight hours, of which 1,400 were in the F-14. He is survived by his wife and two children.

The radar intercept officer (RIO), Lt. j.g. Rafe Wysham, 25, of Madras, Ore., is listed in good condition. Wysham is single.

Both men were assigned to Fighter Squadron (VF) 143 based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. They were recovered by search-and-rescue helicopters from Helicopter Support Squadron 5, and small boats launched from John F. Kennedy and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) following the aviators' ejection from the aircraft. Both aviators were returned to John F. Kennedy.

John F. Kennedy was conducting routine flight training operations in the Mediterranean Sea about 50 nautical miles south of Crete when the accident occurred. The carrier is en route to relieve USS Theodore Roosevelt in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The accident is currently under investigation.

For additional information about USS John F. Kennedy, go to

USS Kennedy - LCDR Blaschum memorial service
020306-N-8704K-001 At sea aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Mar. 6, 2002 - Ship's company and air wing personnel bid farewell to Lt. Cmdr. Christopher M. "Basher" Blaschum, during a memorial service held in the ship's hangar bay in his honor. Lt. Cmdr. Blaschum died when his F-14 crashed shortly after take-off during training operations in the Mediterranean. Blaschum was a pilot assigned to Fighter Squadron One Four Three (VF-143) based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Joshua Karsten.
March 7, 2002
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