AUGUSTA COUNTY — The family of the pilot killed in Wednesday's fatal crash of a 104th Fighter Wing F-15C deployed from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass., in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley in Augusta County has asked that his name be released, according to a statement released today by the Augusta County Sheriff's Office.
"On behalf of the family of our fallen pilot and with a sense of profound sadness, I am sad to share that Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr. was killed tragically in Wednesday's F-15 crash," said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander, in the statement. "We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," added Keefe.
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, he was additionally a weapons school graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience. 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, according to the statement. 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 statement reads.
Authorities said the pilot of the single-seat jet was headed to New Orleans for radar installation as part of routine maintenance and reported an inflight emergency before losing radio contact.
Search teams had been looking for the pilot since shortly after the jet crashed around 9 a.m. Wednesday. His body was recovered late Thursday after more than 100 local, state and federal officials, as well as volunteers, took part in the effort.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.