Officials have released the name of the military jet pilot who was killed in Augusta County.
Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr. died.
Fontenot served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time wing inspector general, responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot with more than 2,300 flight hours.
A 1996 Air Force Academy Graduate, Lt. Col. Fontenot was additionally a Weapons School graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience.
He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations. Following active duty assignments in Washington D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East, Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February.
He was a decorated combat veteran, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal among others.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Officials have confirmed the pilot missing in Augusta County is dead.
Officials say the pilot was found dead around 5 p.m. by the on-scene crash team. He did not eject safely from the plane.
The pilot’s name is being withheld until family members can be notified.
Here’s the press release from the National Guard:
Officials confirmed today the pilot was fatally injured in the Aug. 27 crash of an F-15C Eagle in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va.
The pilot’s name is being withheld pending notification of family members and will be released when appropriate.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and we are doing all we can to support them during this very difficult time,” said Col. James Keefe, Commander, 104th Fighter Wing. “We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the family and allow them the time they need to grieve,” added Keefe.
A press conference with the 104th Fighter Wing Commander, Col. James Keefe, is scheduled for approximately 10:00 p.m. at the entrance to the 104th Fighter Wing. An additional press conference with Brig. Gen. Robert Brooks, Commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, is schedule on-site in Deerfield, Va. for approximately 10:15 p.m.
An official safety investigation board is being convened and the investigation into the crash is ongoing.
At approximately 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, Washington Center Air Traffic Control in Washington, D.C. lost radio contact with the F-15C aircraft stationed at the 104th Fighter Wing, Mass., and at approximately 9:30 a.m. the 104th Fighter Wing learned that the aircraft had crashed in a remote site near Deerfield Valley, Va.
The single seat F-15C aircraft was en route to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive a radar system upgrade. The flight was not related to the 104th Fighter Wing’s homeland defense mission, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this flight. The pilot was flying a solo mission when he reported an in-flight emergency prior to the loss of radio contact with Washington Center.
The search for a pilot who crashed in Augusta County on Wednesday continues.
The FC-15 jet crashed in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
The search Thursday is centered on the southeast side of Crawford Mountain. The rescue efforts include more than nine planes, including a specially-equipped HC-130 aircraft designed for search and rescue operations.
It’s not clear yet if the pilot ejected from the plane prior to the crash or not. The pilot reported an inflight emergency Wednesday before crashing around 9:05 a.m. No one has had contact with the pilot since.
More than 100 state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and fire and rescue personnel are on scene. Around 10 search-and-rescue teams are on the ground searching along logging roads and logging trails.
The search for the missing 104th Fighter Wing pilot expands with additional Air Force resources as day breaks over the Washington National Forest near Deerfield Valley.
An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 104th Fighter Wing crashed at approximately 9:05 a.m. Wednesday; radio contact with the pilot was lost about five minutes earlier.
Since Wednesday morning, a search and rescue operation has been ongoing.
The search efforts now include a specially equipped HC-130 aircraft assigned to Moody Air Force Base, this aircraft has specialized equipment designed for low-light/night-time search and rescue operations.
The HC-130 has been conducting air operation since 3 a.m. As many as seven helicopters have been conducting aerial night searches.