WILLIAM J. DEY, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

William Dey '92

Date of birth: January 5, 1970

Date of death: June 18, 2000

Age: 30

Lucky Bag

From the 1992 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From Philly.com on June 20, 2000:

Lt. William Joseph Dey was the only Navy flier piloting an F-14 Tomcat at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station on Sunday.

So when Deborah Dey, who had left the show a few hours earlier with their daughter, heard on her car radio that an F-14 had crashed, she knew her husband was dead.

Only the day before, the two had celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary.

They had been looking forward to celebrating Father's Day with their 14-month-old daughter, Kamryn, later that night at their Virginia Beach home.

"He flew Saturday, had a stint to do there Sunday, and then he was to fly back to Oceana [Va.]," said Dey's grandmother Mary Dey, of Hightstown, N.J.

"He never got there. They got the news on the radio. They went crazy."

Dey, 30, formerly of Hightstown, and his radar intercept officer, Lt. David E. Bergstrom, 31, of Annandale, Va., died when their jet crashed during the second-to-last performance in front of a crowd of thousands.

They were performing routine tactical maneuvers when the Tomcat went down, said Mike Maus, a spokesman for the Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va.

"They do takeoffs, climb straight up, make tight turns to simulate landing on aircraft carriers," Maus said, adding investigators do not know what particular maneuver they were trying when the jet went down.

He said the investigation was continuing.

Eyewitnesses said the jet came in low with its canopy down when it rocked left, then wobbled right before crashing in a patch of woods about 200 yards from houses on nearby Hallowell Avenue.

Mary Dey (pronounced dye) said she could only speculate that her grandson knew he was in trouble and crashed into the woods to avoid the houses and crowds.

Most of Dey's family attended the show's rehearsal on Friday to watch him perform, Mary Dey said. But he didn't fly because "something held him up" and it got too late, she said.

"Just to be with the whole family was great. We are a close family," the grandmother said. "His little one was prancing around. It's such a terrible shock."

The next day, Lt. Dey was interviewed by Steve Highsmith of WB-17as part of the air show.

During that interview, the two sides of Dey emerged: The serious, confident pilot and the funny guy who could laugh and joke.

William Joseph Dey, the son of retired New Jersey State Trooper William James Dey, grew up in Hightstown, Mercer County.

"He was wonderful, always there when you needed him," said his sister, Karin Parry, of Souderton. "He excelled at whatever he did."

That included athletics. Dey was a star soccer and ice hockey player at the Peddie School, a small private coed high school in Hightstown.

"Billie was an outstanding soccer player," said Stewart Grief, 28, who graduated two years behind Dey and played ice hockey with him.

But it was Dey's compassion, not his athletic ability, that Greif admired most.

Grief, who said he had lost contact with Dey, recalled how Dey comforted and talked with him when he was going through "tough times" after a game.

"He made the situation easier to deal with in my personal and athletic life," Greif said. "He really made a big difference that year and in my senior year.

"It's a big loss for his family, for the school and the lives he touched."

Dey graduated from Peddie in 1988 and was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he continued playing soccer. He graduated in 1992 and joined the Navy.

"When he went to Annapolis he had to pick something, and he liked flying," his grandmother said. "You know you have to be smart to fly for the Navy. You just can't say, 'I want to be a pilot.' You have to pass everything . . . It was just one more thing he excelled at."

It was during school at Annapolis that Dey met Deborah Sedenka. They married three years later and lived in Virginia Beach.

Dey and Bergstrom were assigned to Fighter Squadron 101 at the Oceana Naval Air Station in Oceana.

Dey, a pilot with more than 1,400 flight hours and more than 1,100 in the F-14, served as a flight instructor.

Bergstrom, who was single, had more than 1,200 flight hours with more than 1,000 aboard a Tomcat. He was an instructor radar intercept officer.

Related Articles

David Bergstrom '92 was Billie's classmate and was NFO of the F-14 Tomcat Billie was piloting when it crashed during an air show.


Class of 1992

William is one of 2 members of the Class of 1992 in Memorial Hall.