Arthur Jason Bayer
Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy
pilot’s life remembered
6 April 2002
Early in his career with the U.S. Navy, Jason Bayer chose “Griz” as his call sign, short for grizzly bear.
But when Bayer’s colleagues discovered that his future wife, Anne, was calling him “Pooh Bear” in love letters, that was the moniker that stuck.
Lieutenant Commander Arthur Jason “Pooh Bear” Bayer was remembered Saturday in a ceremony that drew 300 people to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Carson City, Navada.
Bayer, 34, was killed in a Navy helicopter crash on March 28 about 120 miles north of Los Angeles. He leaves behind his wife, who is expecting a son in June, and 1-year-old daughter Gabriella.
Bayer will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Bayer was born in Reno in 1968, and graduated from Carson High, where he played on the football team.
Bayer took an early interest in airplanes and the military.
His aunt, Tia Cobb, remembered how, during a visit to a bookstore, her nephew bypassed children’s books in favor of a book with pictures of ships, planes and soldiers.
Bayer’s father, Art Bayer, recalled his son’s first words.
“He pointed to the sky, with his little baby finger, and said ‘jet,’” Bayer said.
Bayer seemed to be on track to realizing his dream of becoming an astronaut, and the first person to land on Mars.
“You know it as well as I do, he was going to make it,” Art Bayer said.
After graduating from the University of Southern California, Bayer completed aviation officer candidate school and advanced jet flight training.
At the time of his death, Bayer was a test pilot in the Naval Weapons Test Squadron at China Lake in Ridgecrest, California.
Complementing his professional life was his marriage to Anne in 1995 and an active involvement in church.
Bayer’s sister, Jessica Bayer, said she watched her brother grow from the boy she had rubber-band fights with to become an “amazing man.”
“He was a leader, showing us how to follow our dreams,” she said.
“I would even guess that Jason is right now teaching the angels a few new tricks about flying,” she added.
Bayer’s mother, Carson High teacher Merry Ann Bayer, died in 1999 after battling cancer.
Saturday’s ceremony started with the national anthem and ended with “America the Beautiful.”
Two of Bayer’s Navy colleagues presented Art Bayer with an American flag in his son’s memory.
The crash that killed Bayer also took the life of Petty Officer Charles Chaco, 22, of Guam.
Both men were aboard a Navy HH-1 Huey helicopter that crashed during a search-and-rescue exercise on a rugged Sierra Nevada ridge about three miles west of Kernville, California.
Four others aboard the helicopter were injured.