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Through Airmen's Eyes: Lieutenant follows father's path to silver wings

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) --

(This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.) 

Second Lt. Jon Koritz graduated from undergraduate pilot training Aug. 16, joining a long list of military aviators, including his late father, Maj. Tom Koritz.

Koritz' father was killed in action on the second night of combat during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 flying an F-15E Strike Eagle. At the time, his father was one of six pilot-physicians flying in the Air Force. He was survived by his wife, Julianne and three sons Tim, Jon and Scott.

"To walk across this stage, the same stage my father walked across with class 82-01 to receive his wings, is a very special moment for me and my family," Koritz said.

Koritz graduated in 2008 from East Carolina University and first entered the business world in North Carolina. Still harboring a passion for aviation, his girlfriend, and soon to be father-in-law retired Lt. Col. Steve Lofgren, encouraged his pursuit and eventual acceptance to Officer Training School in 2011.

Koritz rapidly learned how small the Air Force was when reporting to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, right after OTS for pre-flight medical screening. During his physical, the attending physician was a flight surgeon in the 4th Medical Group at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., with Kotiz's father.

Koritz was joined by his wife, mother, two brothers and other family members and friends Aug. 2 when class 13-13 received their assignments. Sixteen friends and family members traveled to Columbus and witnessed firsthand Koritz' excitement when he received his assignment to the F-15E Strike Eagle.

Class 13-13 also had a distinguished keynote speaker for their graduation address. Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Tom Travis, the Air Force Surgeon General, who spoke to the newly minted aviators, during the ceremony. Like Koritz' father, Travis is one of 11 pilot-physicians in the Air Force.

His mother, Julianne Koritz, said she was proud of his accomplishment and predicts his passion for aviation will take him far.

"This is both bittersweet and difficult," she said. "The solace of this moment is that I have never seen Jon happier ... he was meant to be an Air Force aviator." 

This support from his loved ones was especially important, Koritz said.

"I am just fortunate to have this opportunity," he said. "It would have never happened without the love and support of my family and friends."

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