SARASOTA (FOX 13) - Lieutenant Steven Combs died serving our country and doing what he loved most.
He's remembered as a hero Friday. A service was held for him nearly two months after a plane crash claimed his life.
From an early age, Steven Combs, Jr. knew what he wanted out of life.
“He decided he wanted to be a pilot, he wanted to fly and he determined the Navy had the best pilot program around and he wanted to be the best,” Steven Combs, Sr. said.
Flying was his ultimate passion and he worked to become the very best. He was stationed in Japan - living out his dream.
“He was doing what he wanted to do with his life. He loved to fly and he was doing it with the people he wanted to do it with and the place he wanted to do it,” Combs said.
On November 22 Lt. Combs was forced to land at sea when his plane was believed to have experienced "catastrophic engine failure."
He made a nearly impossible water landing in the choppy waters of the Philippine Sea, saving the lives of eight service members.
Lt. Combs and two others were lost at sea.
“It's hard to tell you just how proud we are. Not just proud of the fact that he was able to achieve so many things in such a short amount of time, but more than that proud of who he was and the lives he touched,” Combs said.
Family and friends from across the globe gathered to say their final goodbyes at Sarasota National Cemetery.
“He was a patriot and a hero. He did his duty and he did it well. He will be remembered,” said. U.S. Navy Commander Ryan Gormley.
While their pain runs deep, lt. Combs’ love of life, family, and flying will never be forgotten. Neither will his sacrifice that brought others home.
“He was doing his job to the best of his ability. He would laugh if someone called him a hero. He would have said, ‘That's not me. I’m just a Navy pilot doing my job,’” his father said.
Because of his actions and the lives he saved, the navy is considering a posthumous award for Lt. Combs.
His family has set up the Gold Wings Foundation which will help students with college scholarships in their hometowns.