Memorial service honors MCAS Miramar pilot killed in jet crash

Major Sterling Norton (Photo: Norton family)

Major Sterling Norton (Photo: Norton family)

SAN DIEGO — A memorial service was held Friday for a San Diego-based Marine Corps fighter pilot killed when the combat jet he was flying crashed during training near Twentynine Palms.

The ceremony honoring Maj. Richard Sterling Norton, a member of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where he was stationed.

On the night of July 28, the 36-year-old Marine aviator was piloting an F/A-18C Hornet that went down for unknown reasons during maneuvers near the Marine Air Ground Combat Center.  The crash remains under investigation.

Norton was commissioned in March 2005, according to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. A native of Arcadia in Los Angeles County, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and made several rotations to Japan. He was the recipient of a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a gold star.

Norton’s career achievements also include being a graduate of the Navy’s Top Gun school and the U.S. Marines Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course.

“These are some of the highest achievements for an aviator and few pilots have graduated from both schools,” Norton’s wife said. “He was the acting training officer for his squadron, highly respected by the junior officers he was training.”