Military officials indentify pilot killed in Virginia F-15 crash
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr. died this week after crashing an F-15 in the rural mountains of western Virginia
Fontenot and Japanese Air Self Defense Force Lt. Col. Miyake Hideaki, 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron commander, shake hands last year during a meeting at Komatsu Air Base.
Fontenot served in Japan as the 67th Fighter Squadron commander. He is shown in this 2013 picture shaking hands with Japanese Air Self Defense Force Maj. Gen. Yuich Yamamoto at Komatsu Air Base.
Fontenot is shown here talking with Yamamoto (center left), Komatsu Air Base, and others, during a meeting on Komatsu Air Base, Japan, Dec. 12, 2013.
A tragic end to a sad story. Missing F-15 pilot found dead; didn't eject before crash. Photo via @WHSVndiantonio http://t.co/O5Yw8I4m66
“Thoughts and prayers are with the family”: Military pilot was killed in VA F-15 crash #tcot http://t.co/4tZFMprsjY http://t.co/vvK7nffNH1
#Virginia search-and-rescue mission on for F-15 fighter jet's pilot after crash today: http://t.co/g7j3WnKtqr #ktuu http://t.co/NgIFlqPWvt
DEVELOPING: Witnesses say they saw pilot eject before F-15 crashed http://t.co/0zvS85GWCL http://t.co/JQJ18Xd6qd
Here is a westward-looking view of Deerfield Valley in western Augusta County, reported site of F-15 crash this AM http://t.co/5OpiE1hkcO
A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle similar to the one pictured went down Wednesday in Virginia.
The F-15C hit the ground around 9:00 a.m. after radioing for an emergency during a Massachusetts to New Orleans flight.
The $30 million jet was on a training mission when the incident occurred. Witnesses told local media they saw an ejection, but the Pentagon has not commented on the pilot's status.
A U.S. Air Force has nearly 250 F-15C fighter jets.
By RYAN GORMAN
Military officials have identified the pilot of an F-15 jet that crashed earlier this week in Virginia.
Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr. died when his plane crashed into mountains in a remote part of western Virginia. The 1996 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate was a member of the 104th Fighter Wing based in Massachusetts.
Search crews found Fontenot's body after a two-day search following the accident, Col. James Keefe announced Thursday at the Massachusetts Air National Guard, in Westfield, Massachusetts.
"On behalf of the family of our fallen pilot and with a sense of profound sadness, I am sad to share that Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., was killed tragically in Wednesday's F-15 crash," Keefe said in a Friday afternoon statement.
A team of over 100 local, state and federal officials, including volunteers, looked for the pilot after he was reportedly seen by witnesses ejecting out of the F-15 as it hurtled toward the ground.
Morris was an experienced pilot with more than 2,300 hours of flights under his belt. He was a full-time Wing Inspector General and responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System, the military said.
He crashed the plane while flying from his home base in Westfield to Naval Air Station New Orleans, according to the Air National Guard. It was due to receive a radar upgrade.
Authorities previously shot down reports Fontenot had ejected from the plane, saying the ejection seat was found still inside fighter jet.
Air traffic control is said by the military to have lost contact with the fighter at 9:05 Wednesday morning.
The doomed pilot radioed for help only minutes earlier. Those were his last known words.
Fontenot was a decorated airman who served active duty assignments in Washington, D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous missions in the Middle East, officials said.
He earned several combat medals including the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal, authorities said.
The jet left a massive crater but caused no injuries to other people after it roared into the ground early Wednesday. A massive debris field was left behind.
No ammunition was onboard the plane, which was flying at an altitude as high as 40,000 feet shortly before the incident.
An investigation remains ongoing.