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Pilot in F-15 crash was decorated combat veteran

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 29, 2014 at 2:40 pm •  Published: August 29, 2014
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BOSTON (AP) — The pilot killed in the crash of an F-15 jet this week in the remote Virginia mountains was a decorated combat veteran with 17 years of experience flying the planes, military officials in Massachusetts said Friday.

The pilot, Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February and had been serving with the 104th Fighter Wing as the inspector general and an F-15 instructor pilot.

Col. James Keefe, commander of the Westfield-based fighter wing, said the death was announced "with a sense of profound sadness."

Fontenot was flying the single-seat plane to New Orleans for a radar system upgrade when he crashed Wednesday morning in western Virginia. Officials say he reported an in-flight emergency before losing radio contact. The investigation into the cause of the crash is expected to take several weeks.

Fontenot, 41, of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was a 1996 Air Force Academy graduate. His active-duty career included deployments to the Middle East, and he earned honors including the Meritorious Service Medal. He had also served as a squadron commander in several locations and had assignments in Washington, D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida and Alaska.

In Virginia, more than 100 local, state and federal officials as well as volunteers were involved in the search for the pilot before officials announced Thursday night they had found evidence he did not survive. Brig. Gen. Robert Brooks, Commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, said at a news conference in Deerfield, Virginia, that rescuers found evidence at the crash site that the pilot did not eject.

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