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‘We love you Caleb!’: Former Navy linebacker among two aviators killed in jet crash

Former Navy football player Caleb King was one of the two aviators who died Wednesday when their dual-seated F/A-18 Super Hornet crashed in shallow waters near Key West, Fla., during a training flight. The Navy identified the other aviator killed as Lt. Cmdr. Brice Johnson, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2007.

U.S. Naval Air Forces said King and Johnson were making their final approach toward Naval Air Station Key West at about 4:30 p.m. when their jet went down about a mile from the runway. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

“Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the entire King family,” Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo said in a release. “We lost a dear brother and warrior. The entire Navy Football Brotherhood mourns the passing of a great American. We love you Caleb!”

King, 30, made six starts and saw action in 38 games as a 6-foot, 223-pound inside linebacker for the Midshipmen from 2009-11, and he was also a key contributor on special teams. Navy went 4-0 against Army during the Port Orange, Fla., native’s four years in Annapolis.

“He had the heart and the determination to do whatever he wanted to do,” King’s brother, Joshua, told the Orlando Sentinel. “He lived a very short life, but he lived a very full life.”

King and Johnson were assigned to the Blacklions of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-213. According to the Sentinel, King’s nickname within the squadron was Juggernaut “because he needed to be measured to make sure he’d fit in the cockpit.”

“The entire Blacklion Family is grieving the loss of two great Americans. Lt. Cmdr. Johnson and Lt. King were phenomenal young men, exceptional naval aviators, and were living models of what honor, courage and commitment really mean,” VFA-213 commanding officer Cmdr. Kevin Robb said in a release.

The Sentinel reported that King is survived by his wife, Victoria, and a 15-month-old daughter, Rain.

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