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Air Force pilot who crashed in Michigan declared dead

"The loss of one of our own brings immeasurable sadness"
David Roza Avatar
A F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, lands after a training mission during Northern Lightning 2020 at Volk Field, Wisc., Aug. 12, 2020. Northern Lightning is held annually at Volk Field and is a joint-service exercise, where for 2020 the more than 1,000 Airmen and civilians from the 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont Air National Guard, 1st Fighter Wing from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., VFA-151 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard and civilian contractor Draken International participated in flying simulated combat missions to practice 4th and 5th generation fighter integration. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell)

An Air Force pilot whose F-16 crashed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Tuesday has been declared dead, the Wisconsin Air National Guard announced Thursday. The name of the pilot, who is assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing, will be withheld 24 hours to notify their next of kin, in keeping with Department of Defense policy.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss; our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo said in a Facebook post.

“Today is a day for mourning, the 115th Fighter Wing and the entire Wisconsin National Guard stands with the pilot’s family as we grieve the loss of a great Airman, and patriot.”

The F-16 went down around 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday in Hiawatha National Forest, with the pilot missing at the time, the 115th Wing wrote in an earlier Facebook post. The wing then coordinated a search effort with local first responders, the U.S. Coast Guard and other government agencies overnight.

“We are an extremely close knit group at the fighter wing, the loss of one of our own brings immeasurable sadness to every member of our organization,” Van Roo said.