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As Congress investigates the Osprey, families balance grief with pilots’ love for the warplane

WASHINGTON (AP) — The V-22 Osprey that crashed off the coast of Japan last year brought the aircraft’s safety record back under scrutiny — but this time without one of its most vocal defenders.

Air Force Maj. Jeff Hoernemann piloted the Osprey for more than a decade. Each time a new safety issue occurred, you’d find him online, defending the warplane through his Reddit account, UR_WRONG_ABOUT_V22.

In November, he and seven others were killed when their Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22B Osprey crashed off Japan’s coast.

The Japan crash has reverberated deeply within the Osprey community and left grieving families to maintain a delicate balance. They know the crews were passionate about the Osprey — it performs like no other aircraft in the fleet. But the crashes keep happening, and none of them can stomach the idea of another family facing this kind of grief.

“Would Jeff want it grounded forever? No, he absolutely would not,” his mother, Cathy Hoernemann, told The Associated Press. “But I can’t sit on my hands and wait for the next story of another crash, because I feel in my heart that if things continue like they are, it’s a matter of time, and it’s going to happen again, and then another family will be destroyed.”

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