Kailua man among 4 dead in Afghanistan airplane crash

Reid Nishizuka
Reid Nishizuka

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The Department of Defense announced the deaths of four airmen who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on Sunday.  One of them is a Kailua native.

Capt. Reid K. Nishizuka, 30, of the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron out of Beale Air Force Base, Calif. was killed when an MC-12 aircraft went down near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated, but initial reports indicate there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.

He was a decorated airman who served our country with honor and bravery.

On Sunday night, family, friends, the military community, and the nation are mourned the loss of Air Force Captain Reid Nishizuka who was killed in the line of duty.

Nishizuka was a 2000 Kailua High School graduate.

According to an Air Force spokesman, Captain Nishizuka deployed to Afghanistan last month and had numerous previous deployments, participating in more than 200 combat missions.

He was assigned to the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base in California.

He was a pilot with 2,434 flying hours, more than half of those hours in combat.

His military awards included 10 air medals, two Air Force commendation medals and two Air Force achievement medals.

Nishizuka was one of four U.S. airmen killed Saturday after their MC 12 aircraft crashed near Kandahar Airfield.

“The Air Force has convened an investigation to investigate the cause of the accident. The plane did have a black box and a cockpit voice recorder. It’s unknown if they’ve been recovered at this time,” says Col. Phil Stewart, Beal AFB Installation Commander.

The Air Force says initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time the plane went down.

Friends and family are definitely still in shock and heartbroken by this loss, but they are finding comfort by memories they have with him.

Captain Reid Nishizuka was serving his fifth deployment to the Middle East when the plane he was flying crashed over Afghanistan.

His parents were the first to find out.

“I looked through the peep hole these guys are pretty well dressed, then I saw they were officers with a folder in their hands and my heart just dropped,” says Ricky Nishizuka, Reid’s father.

His younger brothers, Chad and Reyn Nishizuka found out shortly after.

Chad, who is also a pilot in the Air Force got on a plane this afternoon to bring his brother home.

“Since I’m military as well, I’m able to escort him back. I’ll be with him the entire time if we need to stop somewhere or transport him, I’ll be with him at all times,” said Chad.

That’s what family members say they’ll miss most — just being around him.

“He will always be remembered by his personality compassion smile he just loves people,” said Ricky.

“You could be around him and be upset and he’d make you happy,” said Chad.

“He was always a great person to have around, always had solutions if anyone had any problems and knew how to do a lot of things,” said Staff Sgt. Mike Trusso, Reid and Chad’s friend.

And flying was something Nishizuka knew how to do best. He wanted to be a pilot since as long as his dad can remember.

“From when he was 5 years old, he’d spot planes in the sky and know exactly what kind of plane it was,” said  Ricky.

He joined the Jr. ROTC program at Kailua High School and then went on to the ROTC program at Notre Dame University, studying aeronautical engineering.

Along the way, friends and family said he inspired many.

“I remember in high school, I wasn’t the best Jr ROTC cadet, and he helped me out a lot,’ said Trusso.

“He’s been my motivation and that’s pretty much the reason why I joined the Air Force and why I’m flying airplanes as well. He’s the one that motivated me to do all that,” said Chad.

And so while his family is devastated by Nishizuka’s death they say they are so proud of him, the life he led, and his service to the country.

“He was doing what he loved to do, so his life ended doing exactly what he wanted to do,” said Ricky.

Nishizuka’s family will be flying to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware tomorrow where there will be a small ceremony for him and the other men he was flying with.

The family is planning a funeral service here in Hawaii. Details have not yet been determined.

Also killed were:

  • Capt. Brandon L. Cyr, 28, of Woodbridge, VA
  • Staff Sgt. Richard A. Dickson, 24, of Rancho Cordova, CA
  • Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin, 30, of Morehead, KY

Dickson was also stationed at Beale.

“They were two of beale’s finest airmen. Both had deployed numerous times, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both had hundreds of missions they’ve flown under combat conditions,” said Stewart.

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