Top 2013 stories from Airway Heights - Lost in the service to their country
Fairchild reflects on three Kyrgyzstan plane crash victims
On Friday,May 3, three airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base perished in the crash of a KC-135 aircraft near Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan.
Capt. Mark T. Voss, 27, of Boerne, Texas; Capt. Victoria A. Pinckney, 27, of Colorado Springs, Colo. and Tech. Sgt. Herman Mackey III, 30, of Bakersfield, Calif. were lost in the incident, the cause of which is still under investigation. The 93rd Air Refueling Squadron is part of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild.
The crew were just one of many assigned to the Transit Center at Manas near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. They were flying an aircraft assigned to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.
"These brave airmen were heading south on a mission to fuel freedom for our great nation. They were answering the call so that others may prevail, and they gave the ultimate sacrifice," Col. Brian Newberry, Commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, said in a press conference Sunday afternoon.
The mood at Fairchild has been a somber one, Newberry said, and one of shock. But at the same time, the base has held strong together, supporting each other during a difficult time like this.
"Today we want to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of these great patriots," he said. "They have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and there is nothing more we can do to honor them other than to remember them."
Newberry was the operations group commander at the Transit Center prior to his current assignment at Fairchild and knew each of the crew members personally.
One of the first crew members he flew with while in Kyrgyzstan was Pinckney.
"What I remember about Tori was not only was she a fine airman, but a mom," Newberry said. "I got to experience baby pictures and I remember all the happiness that she had."
Pinckney leaves behind her husband, Richard, and 7-month-old son, Gabriel, both of Spokane.
Voss was recently promoted to Aircraft Commander March 14 this year. While his expertise with aircraft stands out, his personality will no doubt remain a strong memory among those with whom he worked.
"Tyler, I remember him with a smile," Newberry said. "Every time I saw him he would come forward and he would always have a smile on his face. He was not a man of many words in my presence, and maybe that was just my presence, but he was a man of many smiles."
Voss is survived by his parents, Wayne and Marcy, as well as a brother and a sister.
Mackey was one of the newer airmen at Fairchild, but Newberry said he had experience flying remote-pilot aircraft.
"That's not an experience most airmen have," he said. "I remember going up to him right away and telling him we need to share that experience, because it's so important to share with our airmen that different mission set."
Mackey is survived by his wife, Megan, as well as his daughter, Payton.
"That makes it harder for me to know them, that I'll be able to remember them that much more. I'll always remember their smiles, all three of them," he said.
Flags were flown at half-staff on base to honor the deceased. The cities of Airway Heights and Spokane joined in the gesture, with Airway Heights proclaiming the week of May 5-11 as Crew 11 Week in their memory.
A public memorial service is currently being planned, and will likely take place at a location off of the air base due to the level of community support.