Military officials have identified the Massachusetts Air National Guard pilot who was killed when his F-15 jet crashed in the mountains of western Virginia as Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr.
Officials did not release his age.
After nearly two days of searching in the remote area around the plane crash, officials confirmed they had located Fontenot’s body at the crash site and confirmed his death.
Fontenot, an 18-year Air Force veteran who joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February, was flying solo en route from his base in Westfield, Mass., to the New Orleans Naval Air Station so his plane could receive a scheduled radar upgrade.
There were no weapons onboard, Air National Guard officials said, and there were no other injuries on the ground.
Washington, D.C., air traffic controllers lost contact with Fontenot around 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, right after he made an in-flight emergency call, said Col. James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, where Fontenot was based.
Around that same time, local sheriff’s officials received 911 calls from residents reporting a loud explosion and black smoke coming from a mountainside near Deerfield, Va.
Keefe said he felt a “sense of profound sadness” at the news.
Fontenot served as the 104th Fighter Wing’s inspector general and as an F-15 flight instructor. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1996, and had more than 17 years of experience flying F-15 jets. He served in Japan and had been deployed several times to the Middle East.
The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
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