AARON J. BARBOSA, LT, USN
Aaron Barbosa '94
Date of birth: March 3, 1970
Date of death: November 19, 1998
From the 1994 Lucky Bag:
From USNA '94:
On 19 November, 1998, LT A.J. Barbosa was flying of the coast of Sicily when his CH-46 SeaKnight helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. A.J. and his crew were conducting a Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) operation with the USS Stump (DD 978) in support of CTF 63 off the USNS Sirius (T-AFS 8). A.J. and crewman/SAR swimmer AMS2 Ross E. Daniel were pronounced "lost at sea." A.J. was born 12 March, 1970, in Detroit, MI and raised in the Phoenix, AZ, area. He spent his youth under the watchful eyes of three sisters and excelled in academics as well as track, football and swimming. He loved to spend his free time expanding his comic book collection or his Star Trek trivia database and dreaming about becoming a pilot. Upon graduation from Phoenix Christian High, A.J. spent two years at Arizona State University while awaiting his acceptance into the Naval Academy so that he may pursue his ultimate goal of becoming a Naval Aviator.
On a typically hot and humid summer day, 3 July 1990, A.J. took his first oath of service to his country and began his career as a Midshipman. Immediately endeared and respected by his plebe classmates for his age and experience, A.J. continued to develop as an inspiration to all he came in contact with. Initially a Systems Engineer, A.J. switched his major to History in order to remain focused on his ultimate goal. This change eventually allowed A.J. the opportunity to engage more leadership responsibility as a senior member of the karate team and as a Deputy Vice Honor Chairman.
After graduating from the Naval Academy, A.J. turned heads at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, as one of the first Ensigns ever to report aboard and proceeded to complete his Masters of Science in Applied Physics in just 18 months. After that brief sidetrack, he was off to Pensacola, FL, again in pursuit of his ultimate goal. On 15 December, 1997, A.J. reached his goal, receiving his "wings of gold" and his orders to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Three (HC-3) in sunny San Diego, CA. After a few months of training in the SeaKnight airframe, A.J. was directed to report to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Eight (HC-8) in Norfolk, VA. Upon arrival onboard the Bay Raiders on 2 October, 1998, he was informed of that his new detachment would be deploying in two weeks. Early Monday morning, 19 October, after an all too brief Homecoming weekend in Annapolis filled with great times and close friends, A.J. got underway with the Sirius, excited to be embarking on his first deployment. A Naval Aviator and proud warrior, A.J. remains at sea in service of his country.
A memorial service was held on 24 November at the Naval Air Station Norfolk Chapel. Many friends and shipmates of both men were in attendance. LT Nick Sherrod, A.J.'s Academy roommate of four years, said the following words: "Words cannot express how we feel today at the loss of our friend, our brother. Aaron, A.J. or Haji as he was reverently known by his closet friends, made life worth living. His optimism and beautiful smile helped me and countless others at the Academy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He was a guy who embraced life and forced us to live it to the fullest. There were nights at the Academy when I would find myself taking plebes out on a recon, streaking across T-court, or simply jumping over the wall for a cold one to blow off steam, only to find A.J. by my side. He was a guy who put people first, who was willing to sacrifice for friends, family, and country, and that is what he has done for us today. While we were here, enjoying the comforts of home, A.J. was out there in the darkness of night, keeping watch over our freedoms. Although he was away, we were with him in spirit. I am just privileged as we all are to have such a friend as Aaron. God has redeemed him for his own."
A.J. is survived by his daughter, Alexandra Jordan, his parents Robert and Carmen, and his sisters Jamie, Gina and Jackie.