OSWEGO, NY – Lt. Nathan H. Williams, 28, was one of two people killed Wednesday when the F/A-18F Super Hornet they were flying during a training exercise crashed in a field near Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.
Lt. Matthew I. Lowe, 33, also died in the crash.
Williams is the son of city attorney Gay Williams and retired elementary school teacher Al Williams.
He was a 2000 graduate of Oswego High School.
Mark Fierro, who was Williams’ hockey coach in high school, recalls him as a quiet leader on the hockey team.
“He was always dependable. He was a great example of what we were striving for in OHS athletics – a tough competitor on the ice/field and a top student in the classroom and those who knew him would say he was truly a class act,” he said. “He was a player who enjoyed the game of hockey, which would be evident from the huge smile on his face every time he took the ice.”
“He was an intelligent young man and was in SUPA Economics with me. He was a very hardworking student with a great personality,” said Ed Stacy, his social studies teacher. “He went to college through the ROTC program and wanted to be a pilot.”
“When I think of Nate, the first image that comes to mind is a blond curly head of hair and his ever-present smile. Nate was always raring to go, full of energy and loving life,” added Debora Bartholomew. “He excelled at music, sports and everything he participated in. He comes from a great family, with parents who always put all three of their boys first and instilled character, integrity and values by their example. Words cannot express the sorrow we feel for Al, Gay, Jeffrey and Seth and all of the family. Our prayers are with them.”
Williams reportedly and received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Rochester in May 2004.
“I know I join everyone in the community when I say how deeply and profoundly saddened I am by this news,” added Bill Palange, Williams’ former music teacher.
The entire Williams family had a “deep, deep commitment to music” with all the boys – Jeff, Nate and Seth, he said.
“Nate, as was the case with all the boys, was incredibly talented,” Palange said.
“He played – always joyously – the saxophone. Nathan was principal alto sax in the OHS Wind Ensemble, as well as a member of the OHS Jazz Ensemble with Anthony Joseph and he spent a number of seasons with the Marching Buccaneers.”
Williams was an avid athlete as well and sometimes his two very hectic schedules collided, Palange remembers.
“But Al and/or Gay would move mountains to always make sure he and the other boys and many times other band kids, too, met their commitments to the team by driving them across the state if necessary!” he added. “Gay and Al’s dedication to their boys lives was very inspiring to me.”
“Nate played really, really well; a talent and musical sense much beyond his years. In a long list of impressive performances and achievements, two stand out in particular: He played so great that I really wanted to feature him on a solo piece with band. His private teacher, Dale Baer (SUNY Oswego, retired) found this piece for him (“Beautiful Colorado”) and he played it absolutely great!! You really had to look twice when you saw him play because the wonderful head full of curly hair he always sported gave him the appearance of someone much, much younger. It made it very hard to believe such beautiful music was coming from someone that youthful,” Palange continued. “Later on that same year – his senior year – he asked if he could play a Kenny G piece he had been fooling around with at the Wind Ensemble’s Spring Concert. If my memory serves me correctly, I THINK he told me that his mom liked it a lot. Not knowing exactly what we were going to get when he played this, I was a smidge skeptical. But as soon as he began playing, it was – phenomenal!! He played with tremendous passion. Nate sounded exactly like Kenny G! It was an extraordinarily poignant and beautiful musical moment from a beautiful musician – and a truly exceptional and outstanding young man.”
News reports from the site say the aircraft went down shortly after noon in a grassy field about half a mile from the base. Lemoore is about 30 miles south of Fresno.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.