View Full Version : Tragedy repeats for New Jersey man after second son killed in Navy helicopter crash i

07-19-03, 06:21 AM
Tragedy repeats for New Jersey man after second son killed in Navy helicopter crash in Italy

By Steve Strunsky
9:22 a.m., July 18, 2003

NEWARK, N.J. When Albert Bianchi learned his son was killed in a military helicopter crash this week, the pain was all too familiar. Another son died the same way in 1987.

"This is my second son who's died in a helicopter crash, and it's as much as I can bear," Bianchi, 67, said in a telephone interview from his home in Maplewood, his voice shattering with emotion.

Cmdr. Kevin Bianchi, 40, was among four Navy helicopter crew members killed Wednesday in a crash in Italy.

In March 1987, Kevin's older brother Robert, a 26-year-old Navy helicopter pilot, was killed in a crash in the Philippines. He was one of five killed when the twin-engine HH-46 helicopter he was piloting crashed north of the Navy's base at Subic Bay.

Even after his brother's death, Kevin was not overly concerned with the danger of helicopter flight, their father said.

"It's risky, some of the things they have to do, but he didn't have any fear of flying," Bianchi said. "It's something I always thought about, yes."

Bianchi, a retired electrical engineer and business executive, is not a veteran, but he and his wife, Suzanne, raised what turned out to be a Navy family. Three of their four sons James, Robert and Kevin attended the U.S. Naval Academy, and James remains in the Navy Reserves. The youngest son, Richard, is not in the military, Bianchi said.

Kevin Bianchi and the three others were killed when a Sea Dragon helicopter went down about 10 miles southwest of the Navy base at Sigonella in eastern Sicily.

The others were identified as Lt. Peter Ober, 27, of Jacksonville, Fla.; Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Brian P. Gibson, 33, from Richmond, Va.; and Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Samuel Cox, 21, of Duluth, Minn.