UPDATE: Pilot who died in F-16 crash identified
The pilot was Air Force Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, 37, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who is survived by his wife and two children.
DELTA COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - The Wisconsin Air National Guard says a thorough investigation is underway after an F-16 crashed in Upper Michigan Tuesday night, killing the pilot.
Friday afternoon, the 115th Fighter Wing identified the pilot as Air Force Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, 37, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who is survived by his wife and two children.
Capt. Jones joined the Air National Guard in 2011 and graduated from F-16 basic qualification training in 2015. He is a decorated combat veteran, deploying as a part of a United States Pacific Command Theater Support Package to Japan in 2015 and to Korea in 2017. He deployed again in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to Afghanistan in 2019. Capt. Jones has been awarded two Air Medal’s with combat “C” devices, which are awarded to individuals who have been personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action. Before joining the military, Capt Jones graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in mathematics in 2005.
The family asked to convey their gratitude for the incredible outpouring of love and support from the community. Out of respect for the family’s wishes, they have asked for privacy during this difficult time.
At a news conference Friday morning, no specific details about the crash was released. The Wisconsin Air National Guard said there was a comprehensive search for the pilot after the crash but would not confirm that the pilot ejected the jet before it went down. The commander of the 115th Fighter Wing said that detail will be revealed during a three-phase investigation which could take a year or more.
“It will look into pre-flight activities, maintenance, aircraft integrity, pilot briefings and trainings, all with the goal of determining exactly how this accident occurred,” Col. Bart Van Roo said during the news conference.
The pilot’s identity was released later Friday, as that would be 24 hours after the pilot’s spouse and immediate family members were notified.
The 115th Fighter Wing announced the pilot’s death Thursday evening, nearly 48 hours after an F-16 went down in the Hiawatha National Forest during a routine training mission. The crash site is in eastern Delta County, near the Schoolcraft County line and just east of Camp 7 Lake Campground.
“It almost sounded like a railroad train coming through, and it literally flew right over the top of our house,” said Joe Herr, who says he lives about 4,000 feet from the crash site. “Within a couple seconds, we could still hear the plane motor when we heard the explosion. When the explosion happened, it literally shook our house.”
Herr, a local pastor, offered prayers and support for the pilot’s family and the U.S. military.
“This was a training exercise, but this is a serious event and they’re training for places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and so they put their life on the line every day even when it’s not fighting, so we really owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Col. Van Roo thanked the law enforcement and first responders from Upper Michigan who were first at the scene, including the Michigan State Police, Delta County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan National Guard.
“Local, state and federal agencies all participated in a comprehensive search for the pilot, in hopes that they would be found alive,” he said.
Watch a Friday morning update from Col. Van Roo below.
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