DIFFERENT KIND OF "WAKE UP CALL"
A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back. Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near the Arizona Air Force base wrote his local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that "disturbed" his/her day at the mall. When that individual read the response from Lt. Col. Scott Pleus, commander of the 63rd Fighter Squadron, it must have stung quite a bit. At least we hope it did.
"Here's the 'question of the day' for Luke Air Force Base," the whining civilian wrote. "Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns' early-bird special? Any response would be appreciated."
The swift reply came as follows in a letter to the same newspaper:
Regarding A WAKE-UP CALL FROM LUKE'S JETS (Letters, Thursday): On June 15, 2005, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly-timed four-ship flyby of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques.
Capt. Fresques, 26, of Clarkdale, AZ, who was previously stationed at Luke AFB, was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla. at the time of his death. Also killed with Capt. Fresques in the May 30, 2005 crash of an Iraqi Air Force plane on a training mission in eastern Diyha Province were: Maj. William Downs, Capt. Derek Dargel and S/Sgt. Casey Crate.
At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.
Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the rifle salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.
A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.
The letter writer asks, "Whom do we have to
thank for the morning air show?" The 58th Fighter Wing
will forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques,
and "thank" them for you, for it was in the captain's
honor that my pilots flew the most honorable mission of their lives.