BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. (AFNS) --
Massachusetts National Guard officials identified the pilot of an F-15C Eagle jet that crashed in Virginia as Air Force Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr.
The veteran aviator was killed Aug. 27 when his aircraft crashed in remote, mountainous terrain near Deerfield Valley.
"We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," said Col. James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing based here.
Fontenot served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time Wing Inspector General, responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot with more than 2,300 flight hours. A 1996 Air Force Academy graduate, he was additionally a Weapons School Graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations.
Following active duty assignments in Washington D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East, Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February 2014. He was a decorated combat veteran, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal, among others.
An official safety investigation board is being convened and the investigation into the crash is ongoing.
A massive search ensued following the Aug. 27 crash of the jet in dense forest. The search involved personnel from the National Guard, Virginia State Police and civilian searchers, some with dogs and others on horseback.
At approximately 9:05 a.m. Aug. 27, Washington Center Air Traffic Control in Washington, D.C., lost radio contact with the aircraft stationed at the 104th Fighter Wing, and at approximately 9:30 a.m. the wing learned that the aircraft had crashed in a remote site near Deerfield Valley, Virginia.
The single seat F-15C aircraft was en route to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive a radar system upgrade. The flight was not related to the 104th Fighter Wing's homeland defense mission, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during the flight, a National Guard news release said.
Fontenot was flying a solo mission when he reported an in-flight emergency prior to the loss of radio contact with Washington Center.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The 104th Fighter Wing contributed to this article.)