Due to an editing error, a previous version of this post had the incorrect number of Navy and Marine Corps deaths in the line of duty for 2018. USNI News’ internal records show that this was the 11th death this calendar year
A sailor was killed on July 30 when an auxiliary fuel tank fell off the helicopter he was inspecting, a spokesman for the commander of Naval Air Forces told USNI News.
Naval Helicopter Aircrewman 1st Class Jonathan Richard Clement, who had served with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 85 since July 2017, was performing a “quick post-flight inspection” on a HH-60H helicopter that had just returned from a mission, spokesman Cmdr. Ron Flanders said. At around 6:30 p.m., Clement and another sailor were injured when the auxiliary fuel tank detached from the aircraft.
Both sailors were taken to a nearby hospital, Flanders said. Clement was taken off life support the following day, about 24 hours after the mishap. The other sailor, who was not identified, sustained only minor injuries and was released from the hospital the same day.
Flanders said the Navy was conducting a comprehensive safety investigation following the mishap.
The fatal mishap was first reported by Military.com. The Navy did not issue any notices or news releases about the incident, citing an obligation only to announce combat-related casualties.
Clement, from Florida, joined the Navy in June 2007. After going through basic special warfare training and aviation and air technical training, he served in Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 out of Atsugi, Japan; Helicopter Sea Combat Weapons School Pacific at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.; and HSC 85.
Clement was promoted to the rank of Naval Helicopter Aircrewman 1st Class in October 2016.
His awards and decorations include: Enlisted Naval Aircrew Warfare Specialist, Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4), Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon (Sharpshooter).
Clement is the 11th Navy or Marine Corps service member who has died in 2018 in a work-related mishap or in combat, according to internal USNI News records.
The “Firehawks” of HSC 85 are a reserve squadron at NAS North Island that support special operations missions. In 2011 the squadron transitioned from a logistics role to supporting Naval Special Warfare personnel, and it is now the only squadron solely dedicated to that role after HSC 84 was disestablished in 2016.