The Department of Defense Identified the Airmen Who Lost Their Lives Last WeekPress Release
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - This weekend, the Department of Defense identified the six Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing who died on Oct. 2 when a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, said a Dyess Air Force Base press release.
According to the press release, the Airman killed in the crash included Capt. Jordan Pierson, Capt. Jonathan Golden, Staff Sgt. Ryan Hammond, Senior Airman Quinn Johnson-Harris, all deployed from 317th Airlift Group at Dyess AFB, along with Senior Airman Nathan Sartain and Airman 1st Class Kcey Ruiz who deployed from the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanson Air Force Base, Massachusetts.
The wing held a morning fallen comrade ceremony on Oct. 3 to honor the Airmen who “made the ultimate sacrifice” doing their duty on the “combat frontier.” Fellow wingmen paid their respect and mourned their loss, and after a brief prayer from the wing chaplain, the squadron commanders of the fallen were provided the opportunity to address the service members who gathered at the ceremony, stated the press release.
“We’ve taken a blow, but I’m proud of the way we’ve come together and supported each other…that must continue,” said Lt. Col. Mitchell Spillers, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Commander. “We’re a tactical airlift unit that provides a lifeline to our forces that no one else can. Our mission will continue and must carry on. Jordan, JJ, Ryan and JH all loved what we do, and would expect nothing less.”
Spillers said he lost some of his finest Airmen this week.
“This was one of my best crews; they had a positive impact on everyone around them. They served honorably and will forever be remembered as true tactical airlifters,” said Spillers. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and we will do everything in our power to comfort them during this time of loss.”
Maj. Met Berisha, commander of 455th Expeditionary Security Forces, said the Airmen did their duty without regard for their own safety to deliver airpower capabilities.
“We must mount up and get back to our posts, get back to our patrols, and get back in those aircraft and continue to do what we do best…project combat airpower for our nation,” said Berisha to those in attendance. “We all know deep in our hearts, Defenders, that’s exactly what Sartain and Ruiz would have wanted.”
Berisha also stated that Sartain and Ruiz were the type of Airmen every commander sought to have on their team. Additionally, he had no doubt that when the U.S. sent an aircraft into an unsecured and dangerous Afghan airfield, the finest security Airmen the Air Force could deliver would defend the aircrew and aircraft.
“Simply put, Ruiz and Sartain loved securing and projecting combat airpower for our nation. Their families not only raised fine American patriots, but they raised heroes that we all had the humble honor and phenomenal privilege to serve alongside with here,” Berisha said.
Chief Master Sgt. Matt Grengs, 455 AEW command chief, said Airmen across the wing are grieving for the lost Airmen, but everyone must pull together to continue the mission in honor of their sacrifice.
“Today, we paused to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice as part of the Vulture Nation,” said Grengs. “We can only hope that the anguish of the families of these fallen heroes is tempered with the knowledge that their loved ones died doing what they loved for the nation they loved. They did not die in vain. It is our duty to finish the work of these fallen comrades.”