Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By Al Stover 

Fairchild dedicates monument to Shell 77 aircrew

 

Al Stover

Family and friends gather around the granite memorial that bears the names of the Capt. Mark "Tyler" Voss, Capt. Victoria "Tory" Pinckney and Tech. Sgt. Herman "Tre" Mackey III, who perished in the KC-135 Stratotanker accident in Kyrgyzstan in 2013.

A dedication ceremony was held at Fairchild Air Force Base's Memorial Grove Park, May 3, to honor the lives and celebrate the accomplishments of, Capt. Mark "Tyler" Voss, 27; Capt. Victoria "Tory" Pinckney, 27 and Tech. Sgt. Herman "Tre" Mackey III, 30.

Voss, Pinckney and Mackey were the three Fairchild airmen who perished in the KC-135 Stratotanker accident in northern Kyrgyzstan last year.

In March, Air Mobility Command revealed several findings in their investigation report for the accident.  According to the report, the tanker went into a "Dutch roll" - where the aircraft was simultaneously rocking side to side and moving up and down. Despite attempts from the crew to stabilize the plane, the tail section detached from the KC-135, which led to the plane exploding as it entered a high-speed dive. Debris from the aircraft was scattered over an area more than two miles square in the foothills below the Himalaya Mountains, 11 minutes after take-off.

Since then, the Air Force has been implementing checklists and simulator modifications to prevent an accident like this from happening in the future.

The ceremony began with a moment of silence, followed by a flyover from a KC-135 aircraft.

Family, friends, the squadron and dignitaries from Spokane and the West Plains attended the event.

During the ceremony, Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, spoke about about how each of the crewmembers' passion for the Air Force and their families affected him.

"One year ago, we were wounded by the sudden and tragic news of their loss," Newberry said. "I do acknowledge that those wounds can never completely heal, but we can in time become stronger by emulating the Shell 77 crew's strength."

Friends and families joined in unveiling the memorial for the Shell 77 crew - a granite pillar with the names of the three crewmembers. According to Newberry, the pillar symbolizes the crews' contributions as a whole, as well as their love of flight.

Next to the pillar were three benches. Similar to the pillar, the benches symbolize the individual accomplishments of the crew.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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