The best friend of the U.S. Air Force member from Pittsfield who was killed when his aircraft went down near Japan on Nov. 29 has created a GoFundMe to help his young family celebrate the airman’s life.
“I met Jakey in 2018 while we were attending technical training for our jobs in the Air Force. Since then, I have had the honor of being best friends and creating a brotherly bond with Jakey,” wrote Victor “Tito” Cervantes, who identified himself as an active duty member stationed in Kadena, Japan.
The family of Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher, 24, was told on Nov. 30 that rescue crews had recovered his body from the ocean, a family member said.
Another five airmen who were also on board the lost CV-22 were found dead in the following days, with two believed to be dead still missing as of Dec. 7, according to the Air Force.
Galliher and his family, including his wife, Ivy Groshong-Galliher and their 2-year-old and 7-week-old sons, had lived on a military base in Japan. Cervantes shared her words in the GoFundMe, which had reached just over $1,000 of its $7,777 goal as of Dec. 8.
“Jacob is one of the strongest people I have ever known, he cared deeply for everyone he met and was constantly trying to get smiles and laughs out of people,” his wife wrote.
“His boys will grow up with all the amazing memories of him, knowing he loved them more than the world and know that their daddy was not only a warrior but an incredibly special individual. I truly hope they turn out just like him,” she wrote.
Groshong-Galliher thanked the people who worked to bring her husband’s body home, and said her “heart went out” to the familles of the other airmen onboard the CV-22.
She said it “was amazing to watch and seeing all the people who loved and cared for him” as it “brings me so much joy during this hard time.”
Almost the entirety of Galliher’s community rose up in support of the fallen airman, including those from his high school days such as the former Pittsfield Public Schools Athletic Director, his school principal and the Pittsfield Fire Department Capt. Jim Ziter, who was Galliher’s football coach.
“He never had a bad thing to say about anything,” Ziter previously told MassLive. “He was a quiet leader, but he didn’t have to be vocal. He led by example.”
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-1st District, who represents Pittsfield, said in a statement that Galliher “represented our nation’s best.”
“As a father, my heart goes out to Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher’s mother and father during this difficult time,” Neal said previously. “Any parent will tell you there is no greater pain than the pain of losing a child, and Jacob Galliher was beloved by all.”
Gov. Maura Healey mourned Galliher’s loss in a statement Friday and said her thoughts were with “his family, especially his two young sons, and the Berkshire County community as they mourn the loss of one of their best and brightest.”
MassLive reporter Will Katcher contributed to this article.