Maj. Jeffrey Hoernemann, 32, of Andover, Minn., was a CV-22 instructor pilot and officer in charge of training.

Maj. Jeffrey Hoernemann, 32, of Andover, Minn., was a CV-22 instructor pilot and officer in charge of training. (U.S. Air Force)

The parents of an Air Force pilot who perished with seven other crew members aboard a CV-22 Osprey in late November have started a campaign to create a scholarship in his memory, his mother said.

Maj. Jeff Hoernemann, 32, of Andover, Minn., died with the others when their Osprey went down off the coast of Yakushima, an island in southern Japan. All but one of the crew members’ remains were recovered. The search for Air Force Maj. Eric “Doc” Spendlove, of St. George, Utah, was suspended Jan. 11.

Hoernemann served as a CV-22 instructor pilot and chief of weapons tactics for the 21st Special Operations Squadron, 353rd Special Operations Wing, at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.

“The world would be a better place if it was a little more like Jeff,” his cousin Maj. Derek Wibben said during Hoernemann’s funeral livestreamed Jan. 4 by Grace Lutheran Church, Andover, on YouTube.

The GoFundMe campaign, started Monday by Hoernemann’s parents, Catherine and Tom Hoernemann, by Thursday had raised more than $4,800 toward their $75,000 goal.

“The idea of creating this scholarship came about shortly after we lost him in such a tragic manner and was solidified in the weeks leading up to and including the day of his funeral,” Catherine Hoernemann told Stars and Stripes by email Wednesday. “We, as his parents, knew that Jeff had a lot left to offer this world, and that his time here with us was way too short to accomplish all of his goals.” 

His parents were inspired after receiving letters and hearing stories from their son’s friends in and out of the military about how much impact he’d had on their careers and personal lives, she said. “We felt that the best way to honor his passions was to offer a scholarship for future aviators and educators.”

Jeff Hoernemann, 32, graduated from Andover High School in 2008, where he competed in track, cross country, Nordic skiing and swimming. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and an Air Force commission through ROTC, according to his obituary on the Thurston-Lindberg Funeral Homes website. He began active service on March 1, 2015.

“Jeff loved the Air Force, flying the Osprey, his wife, family and friends unconditionally,” his mother said. “He frequently told us that he really enjoyed mentoring the newer CV-22 pilots and teaching as an instructor pilot.”

In addition to his parents, he leaves behind his wife, Jess Boozer, brother Jared Hoernemann and grandparents Ray and Ardelle Hoernemann, according to his obituary.

During his career, he was recognized with Meritorious Service medal, Air Medal with “C” Device, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air and Space Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air and Space Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Star and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, according to his obituary.

“He found and brought out the good in everyone and with every encounter with Jeff left you feeling better,” his mother said. “We miss him and love him with all of our hearts.”

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.

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