Raymond Edward O’Hare – Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy

July 13, 2000:

Crash claims lives of two

The crash of a T-38 Talon Tuesday morning took the lives of two U.S. Naval Test Pilot School students.

Pilot Lieutenant Commander Gareth Aaron Rietz, 33, of Cheney, Washington, and Co-pilot Lieutenant Commander Raymond Edward O'Hare, 33, of Palos Heights, Illinois, died when their TPS jet crashed on the skeet range just off Tatee Road, as they were attempting to land on Runway 6.

The two were returning from a familiarization flight when the plane went down just short of the runway. Station firefighters and rescue personnel were on the scene just minutes after the mishap.

The Pax River aviation community has had an outstanding safety record. The last fatality involved an F-18 that crashed on station in October 1992, killing a civilian worker driving a pickup truck. The pilot and co-pilot aboard the Hornet had ejected safely.

The Talon has had an outstanding safety record throughout the military services and has been used in a number of roles including a chase plane and trainer for NASA. The twin-engine Talon was also used for a short period by the Navy's Blue Angels.

Representative Steny Hoyer Tuesday released a statement regarding the crash. “This is a tragic loss of life and I express my sincerest condolences to the families of the pilots. They died while serving their country and for that they will forever be honored.”

Hoyer said the tragic crash is an unfortunate reminder that being in the military is still a dangerous pursuit and “we should work diligently to provide our military with the best possible equipment and training to prevent more occurrences such as this.”

An Aviation Mishap Board is investigating the mishap.

Pilots honored at memorial service

A memorial service for Lieutenant Commander Gareth A. Rietz, 33, and Lieutenant Commander Raymond E. O'Hare, 33, killed in the crash of their T-38 Talon last week, was held Saturday at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River chapel.

Family, friends and co-workers gathered to remember the two. “Gareth and Ray were not only our senior Navy pilot and flight officer, respectively, but also the heart and spirit of our class. Their infectious enthusiasm for life and dynamic personalities made an immeasurable contribution to our Test Pilot School experience. We will never fully recover from their loss, but are better off for having them touch our lives,” said members of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Class 118 in remembrance of their classmates.

In honor of their fallen colleagues, Navy pilots dipped their wings in a flyover concluding the memorial service.

Both men were TPS students and experienced pilots. Rietz had logged more than 3,000 flight hours in 12 types of aircraft and O'Hare had logged more than 1,150 hours in 10 types of aircraft.

O'Hare, a native of Chicago, received his bachelor's degree in history from Harvard University, graduated from Aviation Officer Candidate School, was commissioned an ensign in 1990 and designated a naval flight officer in 1992. He had participated in the Navy's Postgraduate School Cooperative Education program and would have received his master's degree in aeronautical engineering upon graduation from TPS.

Rietz, a native of Spokane, Washington, received an NROTC scholarship, graduated with a bachelor's degree in engineering from Washington State University in 1989 and became a naval aviator the following year. Rietz was also a participant in the Naval Postgraduate School Cooperative Education program and would have received his master's degree in aeronautical engineering in December.

O'Hare is survived by his wife Coleen, and children Katherine, 4, Elizabeth, 3, and Tommy, 10 months. Contributions to the O'Hare children can be made payable to MSDW ACCT #216-026-308, Reference O'Hare Memorial Educational Fund and sent to MSDW, Attn: Curtis Lund, 300 W. Arrington, Suite 106, Farmington, New Mexico 87401.

Rietz is survived by daughters Rebekah, 6, and Sara, 4. A memorial fund for the children has been established. Contributions can be made to the Rietz Children Memorial Fund, 24893 Half Pone Point Road, Hollywood, Maryland 20636.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/15/1966
  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/11/2000

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