Two Civil Air Patrol pilots participating in a Hawaii Wing tsunami alert training mission March 20 perished in an accident on Kaua’i.

“We lost two valued members of our CAP ohana (family) this weekend,” said Col. Chantal Lonergan, Hawaii Wing commander. “Our hearts remain with their families.”

Lt. Col. James E. Degnan and Capt. David J. Parker, both retired military pilots, participating in the wing’s monthly U.S. Air Force-assigned exercises when the accident occurred over land about 3 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time — just 11 minutes into their flight. 

Fire Air 1 responded and located the wreckage of the aircraft on a ridge near the Pihea Trail in Koke’e State Park on the island’s northwest side. Rescuers were unable to reach the crash site until this morning because of the mountainous terrain and inclement weather that moved into the area. The bodies were recovered when the weather cleared. 

Both men were members of the Kaua’i Composite Squadron, based in Lihue. 

Degnan, 76, was the squadron’s operations and alerting officer. Parker, 77, served as the unit’s emergency services officer. Both were experienced pilots and served in the Vietnam War. 

“The Hawaii Wing’s tsunami alert flights are among the most important missions performed by Civil Air Patrol,” Lonergan said. “Our aircrews train year-round and have provided this valuable service for more than 50 years now. Their vigilant efforts have saved countless lives.” 

The training accident’s cause is under investigation.