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Navy Pilot Lost in C-2 Crash 'Flew the Hell Out of That Airplane'

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A Navy lieutenant who lost his life while working to save his passengers in a C-2 Greyhound crash last week may be recommended for an award, an official said Monday.

Lt. Steven Combs, the pilot of the aircraft, was one of three sailors who died when the aircraft crashed Nov. 22 in the Pacific Ocean en route to the carrier Ronald Reagan from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Eight other sailors, including the co-pilot, were rescued from the water.

Combs managed to execute a landing on the water, giving the four aircrew and seven passengers the best opportunity to get clear of the aircraft and reach safety. The difficulty of such a landing with the cargo aircraft was compounded by high seas, which by some reports reached 10 to 12 feet, said Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces.

“They did not have a lot of notice that they were going to have to ditch just miles from the carrier,” Flanders told Military.com. “To use the words of his co-pilot who told us, ‘[Combs] flew the hell out of that plane.'”

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Flanders added that the possibility of a posthumous award for Combs in light of his actions was under discussion.

Combs, who was commissioned in 2011 and reported to Fleet Logistics Squadron 30 in 2015, had served aboard Ronald Reagan as a detachment assistant operations officer and administrative officer, according to a Navy release. During his career, he had logged more than 1,200 flight hours and 100 carrier-arrested landings.

Navy personnel were able to rescue the eight survivors within an hour of the C-2 going down southwest of Okinawa. On Nov. 25, the Navy identified those lost as Combs, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Matthew Chialastri and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso.

Multiple sources have reported that engine failure is suspected as a cause of the crash, though an investigation is still underway.

“Clearly there was something amiss with the aircraft and basically they were not close enough to the carrier to try to bring it in,” Flanders said.

On Saturday, the Ronald Reagan held a memorial service to commemorate the lives of Combs, Chialastri and Grosso.

Capt. Michael Wosje, the commander of the Reagan’s Carrier Air Wing 5, paid special tribute to the fallen pilot.

“The loss of one of our pilots weighs heavily on the entire Carrier Air Wing Five team. Lt. Combs will always be remembered as a hero,” Wosje said, according to a news release. “I am proud to have flown with him.”

The commander of the carrier, Capt. Buzz Donnelly, also honored the sailors who died.

“The loss of these crew members hits across the entire ship with great significance,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “On behalf of the entire crew of USS Ronald Reagan, I extend heartfelt prayers and sincere condolences to the families and friends of the three shipmates we lost.”

Less than a week after the tragic crash, the Navy has not moved to suspend or pause flight operations for the aging Greyhound, the service’s carrier onboard delivery platform for personnel and logistics.

Flanders noted that the current batch of the aircraft, C-2A(R), which began flying for the Navy in the mid-1980s, has an almost unprecedented safety record. There has been only one previous fatality — a tragic 1988 mishap in which an individual walked into the aircraft’s prop arc.

“This mishap was the first of its kind in several decades,” Flanders said of the most recent crash.

The Greyhounds now flying for the Navy recently underwent a service-life extension program that was completed in 2015. The transports are set to be retired and replaced by Navy-variant CMV-22 Ospreys in the mid-2020s.

— Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

© Copyright 2017 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Cuomo's 'open letter' to Trump after Texas school shooting slammed on Twitter: 'YOU do something'

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Hours after a gunman opened fire in a Texas high school classroom, killing at least 10 people, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to Twitter demanding President Trump “DO SOMETHING.” After listing seven mass shootings in a tweet to Trump, Cuomo, a Democrat, then drafted a letter.

The May 18 “open letter” calls on Trump, the House of Representatives and the Senate to take action.

“When is enough enough?” Cuomo asks. “How many more innocent people have to die before you act?”

Cuomo, who boasted about his “F” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), told the polticians to put their country first.

“You were elected to do something – do something. Your first responsibility is to the people of the United States, not the NRA – do something,” Cuomo repeated. “My heart breaks for the families who have to grieve from this needless violence – DO SOMETHING.”

AFTER TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING LEAVES SEVERAL DEAD, HUNT FOR EXPLOSIVES CONTINUES

The letter, signed by Cuomo — who dubbed himself the “father of Cara, Mariah and Michaela, taxpayer, Governor of New York, NRA ‘F’ Rated Elected Official” — garnered more than 665 retweets by Friday evening and received dozens of fiery replies.

Several Twitter users lectured Cuomo for allegedly not offering any solutions himself, while others told him he should instead focus on New York’s issues.

“You’re the elected official. What’s your plan? Don’t just pass the buck.”

– Twitter user

“This isn’t about you, it’s like you can’t help yourself. You were elected to help NYS, so NYers should be your priority. Sincerely, an ACTUAL taxpayer of NYS, commuter (when the trains work) and NRA member,” one Twitter user replied.

“Why don’t YOU do something in the State of NY that is so terrific that the rest of the States in the USA will follow? IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO LEAD!” another added.

“You’re the elected official. What’s your plan? Don’t just pass the buck,” one user wrote.

“Oh, like NYC is a crimeless utopia. Governor, DO SOMETHING,” another demanded.

Some people suggested Cuomo was “politicizing” the tragedy in order to boost his own popularity among voters — with at least one user calling it his “2020 audition.”

TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING SPARKS REACTION FROM TRUMP, OTHER LAWMAKERS: ‘THIS HAS TO STOP’

“Nice to politicize a tragedy. So while we’re going there, who were the presidents during all of these shootings?” one person asked.

“Really? You’re using this horrible massacre for your campaign? NRA F rated could have been left out of this tweet,” another added.

“Andy, STOP making it so obvious that you are running for Prez in 2020 with your ‘new found voice’ on Twitter!” a Twitter user added.

“Nice to politicize a tragedy. So while we’re going there, who were the presidents during all of these shootings?”

– Twitter user

In particular, many users took issue with Cuomo labeling himself a “taxpayer.”

“You are a Taxpayer rated F official as well,” one user commented.

“Taxpayer? Tax Spender Extraordinaire is more like it,” another jabbed.

However, a handful of people did offer Cuomo some support, echoing his comments to Trump and other lawmakers.

SANTA FE, TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT RECOUNTS HORRIFIC SHOOTING

New York Democratic Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda wrote, “Couldn’t agree more Governor.”

“I agree, Congress is failing our children,” one man responded.

Trump spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Friday afternoon to “offer his condolences for those affected by the shooting at Santa Fe High School,” an official told Fox News. He later addressed the nation, asking government officials to work together to prevent similar tragedies.

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Trump said. “Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe.”

Trump announced in late March that the administration would ban bump stocks and “all devices” that turn otherwise legal weapons into “illegal machine guns,” keeping a promise made amid a bipartisan gun control debate just weeks after 17 students were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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Melania Trump to unveil platform focused on 'well-being of children' from White House

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First lady Melania Trump will announce her formal agenda from the White House Monday afternoon.

Stephanie Grisham, her spokeswoman, said Trump will not be “choosing just one topic as she’s done in the past.” Trump’s focus will be on the “well-being of children,” Grisham said.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH MELANIA TRUMP ANNOUNCE HER OFFICIAL AGENDA

The first lady has a 12-year-old son, Barron, and has expressed her interest in children during numerous visits to hospitals and schools. She recently turned the Blue Room at the White House into a mock classroom and invited middle school students to share their hopes and dreams with her.

Trump has promised to tackle cyberbullying as first lady, hosting major online and social media companies at the White House earlier this year. She’s also brought that message directly to classrooms around the country.

And last year, she addressed the United Nations and encouraged world leaders to “step up” to help children in need. She said countries with poverty, trafficking, disease illiteracy and drug issues “hit first and hardest” the children.

“No child should ever feel hungry, stalked frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn,” the first lady said. “We need to step up, come together and ensure that our children’s future is bright.”

The event is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Rose Garden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

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Strippers, strip club owners lobbying San Diego officials to lower permit fees

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Strippers and strip club owners in San Diego are calling on city officials to lower their annual permit fees, claiming they are unjustified and much higher than in other cities.

The San Diego Hospitality and Entertainment Coalition, a group representing the industry, wants to create a task force that would examine the risks of imposing these high fees that can push women toward unregulated websites where they are more vulnerable to prostitution and human trafficking, The San Diego Union-Tribunereported.

The campaigners say that the permit fees – set to rise to $388 for a stripper and $5,830 for a club operator this summer – could also lead to lower overall revenue for the city as more businesses and women could decide to exit the regulated industry.

“No other city charges fees this high, or even at all. Ten years ago the fees were half as much, and it was a lot easier to make ends meet.”

– Debra Seavello, a stripper at Expose in Kearny Mesa.

Police officials, however, say the fees are necessary. They say they need to allocate the personnel to process the permits, respond to incidents in the clubs and prevent prostitution and other criminal activity.

Much of the police work also occurs during late-night hours and that takes police resources away from other enforcement work, officials said at an earlier meeting.

But strippers and strip club owners said the fees are already higher than justified by how much police actually spends time enforcing laws involving strip clubs.

“No other city charges fees this high, or even at all,” Debra Seavello, a stripper at Expose in Kearny Mesa, told a city committee, according to the Union-Tribune. “Ten years ago the fees were half as much, and it was a lot easier to make ends meet.”

“That’s dangerous for them. At least in the clubs we keep them safe and regulated.”

– Jennifer Sales, a former stripper.

For comparison, a strip club operator in Los Angeles pays $528 for a permit compared to nearly $6,000 in San Diego.

“I know there might be a certain stigma for dancers, however these are mothers who are trying to raise children and do the right thing by working rather than being a burden to the state,” Seavello said. “We can’t afford these increases year after year.”

Jennifer Sales, a former stripper who now works as a manager at the strip club, claims the fees are encouraging vulnerable women to use Craig’s List or web cams for work instead. “That’s dangerous for them,” she said, according to the paper. “At least in the clubs we keep them safe and regulated.”

Dino Palmiotto, owner of Expose and president of the industry group, accused the city of violating state law by charging more than what it should actually cost for police to monitor the strip clubs and strippers.

He said the city could be sued if they don’t form a task force to address their concerns.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

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