Yokota airman died of heart failure during 2015 Christmas Drop
By LEON COOK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 15, 2016
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Heart failure caused a Yokota airman’s death during a training mission last December, Air Force investigators said.
Senior Airman Jeremy M. Jutba-Hake, 22, a Hawaii native assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, died Dec. 13, 2015, while participating in Operation Christmas Drop, an annual training mission in which the Air Force parachutes supplies to isolated island communities in Micronesia.
Jutba-Hake, a loadmaster on a C-130 Hercules, became ill after his crew aborted a Christmas Drop mission and returned to Guam because of a burning smell in the cockpit, said an Air Force statement issued Monday.
The young airman collapsed aboard the aircraft during post-flight duties. Repeated resuscitation attempts failed, and he was pronounced dead at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, the statement said.
A Pacific Air Forces accident investigation board reviewed all available evidence surrounding the burning smell that caused the in-flight emergency and looked at whether it might have caused or contributed to Jutba-Hake’s death but found no link, the statement said.
The airman died of a heart attack caused by the blockage of multiple arteries.
“Jeremy was an exceptional airman,” Brig. Gen. Gregory Guillot, Pacific Air Forces chief of staff and president of the investigation board, said in the statement. “He was a highly respected member of the 374th Airlift Wing, and is deeply missed by his fellow airmen.”
The rarity of Jutba-Hake’s disease and the absence of symptoms made his condition virtually impossible to detect, Guillot said.
“Despite the efforts of fellow airmen, [emergency medical technicians], paramedics and emergency room physicians to save his life, this was tragically a non-survivable cardiac event,” he said.
Senior Airman Jeremy Jutba-Hake conducts pre-flight checks during Red Flag-Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in 2015. Jutba-Hake, 22, a Hawaii native assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, died of heart failure on Dec. 13, 2015, while participating in Operation Christmas Drop, an annual training mission in which the Air Force parachutes supplies to isolated island communities in Micronesia.
CHRISTOPHER STOLTZ/U.S. AIR FORCE