The front design of T-shirts for a fundrasier to help the families of a CV-22B Osprey crash.

The front design of T-shirts for a fundrasier to help the families of a CV-22B Osprey crash. (Brooke Ramirez)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – A woman in New Mexico with a connection to this airlift hub in Japan has raised thousands of dollars for the families of airmen killed in a November Osprey crash by selling T-shirts.

Staff Sgt. Brooke Ramirez, non-commissioned officer in-charge of information assurance at the 27th Special Operations Communications Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., made the T-shirt design and set up the fundraiser, which started Tuesday.

Ramirez, who enjoys drawing, started drawing the design displayed on the back of the shirts hearing about the crash, she said Thursday via a phone call.

The T-shirts come in black with the squadron insignia for the 353 Special Operations Wing, 21st Special Operations Squadron, 1st Special Operations Squadron and Detachment 1, 43rd Intelligence Squadron displayed across their fronts. A black bar crosses the front of each insignia, indicating memory and loss.

The back of the shirt carries the lost Osprey’s call sign, Gundam 22, with an image of an Osprey and the names of the eight airman who died in the crash. Across the bottom is the phrase “Til Valhalla.”

For many service members, Til Valhalla means until we meet again in Valhalla, Ramirez said. “No matter who or what you believe in – it is a sign of utmost respect and tells our Fallen that we will see them again one day.”

The CV-22B Osprey carrying eight American personnel crashed Nov. 29 off Yakushima, an island off the coast of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, during a training mission. A preliminary investigation indicated equipment failure was the likely cause, Air Force Special Operations Command said Dec. 6.

The eight airmen killed in the crash were Maj. Jeffrey Hoernemann, Maj. Eric Spendlove, Maj. Luke Unrath, Capt. Terrell Brayman, Tech Sgt. Zachary Lavoy, Staff Sgt. Jake Turnage, Senior Airman Brian Johnson and Staff Sgt. Jake Galliher.

“I knew a few of the guys, any other military member knows another military member, we talked in passing, had a few good conversations,” Ramirez, from Newport, S.C, said. “I didn’t know them personally, but I knew them enough for their best to affect me.”

Ramirez and her husband, Adrien Ramirez, were stationed at Yokota from January 2020 to January 2023. Brooke Ramirez was part of the 374th Communication Squadron and her husband was part of the 21st Special Operations Squadron.

“It just ate me up that their families are going through this because losing somebody, it’s hard, but losing somebody who is a dad, a brother or son, etc. that’s rough,” Brooke Ramirez said.

People can either buy a short-sleeved shirt for $21 at , a long-sleeved shirt for $28 at or make donations only through at

As of Monday, 413 people have supported the fundraiser by purchasing 608 shirts and raising $8,203 dollars, Ramirez said.

Some have left supportive messages on the fundraiser pages.

“Sending my love to all the family and friends affected by this tragedy,” Chelsea Morrison, spouse of a contractor at Yokota Air Base, posted on the fundraising page. “So proud of our Yokota community for pulling together and helping these families.”

Morrison, from Abilene, Texas, has lived in Japan for 10 plus years and told Stars and Stripes on Monday via Facebook Messenger that the crash “hits close to home” for her. 

“I didn’t know any victims personally but have several friends who did and are connected to the squadron,” Morrison said. “This is home for me, and to see something so tragic happen to our community… it just breaks my heart, so I want to do as much as I can, even if it’s buying a shirt.”

The fundraiser is set to end Jan. 1, but will be extended if interest continues, Brooke Ramirez said.

All the money will be paid directly to the 353rd Special Operations Wing for financial assistance to the Gundam 22 families, the T-shirt and donation site states. 

“I just I hope it helps them,” Ramirez said. “I feel like even a little bit of support goes a long way.”

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Kelly Agee is a reporter and photographer at Yokota Air Base, Japan, who has served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years. She is a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program alumna and is working toward her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland Global Campus. Her previous Navy assignments have taken her to Greece, Okinawa, and aboard the USS Nimitz.

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