Kailua airman one of four killed in Afghanistan plane crash
A Kailua man is one among four airmen who died in a plane crash near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Saturday. Reid Nishizuka's family in Hawaii left for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Sunday night to bring him home.
Butch Galdeira knew Nishizuka, 30, since the 7th grade and shared many fond memories with us.
"He's an incredible man with a humble heart. Full of life and he has an infectious smile. His smile can light up any dim room," he said somberly.
Nishizuka graduated from Kailua High School in 2000. He later earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. His family says he was deployed to Iraq three times and recently left for his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. The 30 year old was assigned to the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron based at Beale Air Force Base in California.
"I was proud of him serving the country, but I was also proud of him enjoying what he was doing. And it was a career he thought he was going to carry through for 20 years," his father, Ricky Nishizuka, said.
His father last saw him during a visit in March and kept in touch with him daily through the cell phone game "Words With Friends."
"14 hours after what was my turn, and then I sent him the words. Then they came to the door to announce that he died in an aircraft accident. So that was tragic for me," he explained.
Nishizuka was the pilot of an MC-12 Liberty aircraft, according to the Air Force. At the time of the crash, he was with a co-pilot and two sensor operators.
"It's a medium to low altitude twin engine turbo prop airplane. The primary mission is primarily, like I said, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance," Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky of Beale Air Force Base said.
Nishizuka had two younger brothers. One of them, Chad, is also a captain in the Air Force, who has deployed to Afghanistan twice.
"It's honestly one of those things you think will never happen to me and you go out there and just do your job with no fear. That's why it's so surprising to me that it did happen. You don't expect it," he said.
The two brothers planned to start a business together after their military careers. Now those dreams have been cut short, leaving heavy hearts behind.
"Just an amazing guy. someone who loved his country and gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country," Galdeira said.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, however initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.
The other three airmen killed in the crash were Capt. Brandon L. Cyr of Woodbridge, Virginia, Staff Sgt. Richard A. Dickson of Rancho Cordova, California, and Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin of Morehead Kentucky.
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