Hurlburt officials remember, honor fallen Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Whitney
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
More than 1,800 servicemembers, families and friends gathered to celebrate the lives of two fallen Airmen in a joint memorial service April 15 here.

Maj. Randell Voas, an 8th Special Operations Squadron evaluator pilot, and Senior Master Sgt. James Lackey, an 8th SOS evaluator flight engineer, died when their CV-22 Osprey crashed in southern Afghanistan April 8.

"Today we honor and remember two brave men who volunteered their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Col. Greg Lengyel, the 1st Special Operations Wing commander. "They sacrificed their lives for the defense of our country and our way of life, and it has been my distinct honor to serve with both of these men for many years."

Major Voas, a former Army chief warrant officer, received his commission in 1999 and flew both MH-53 Pave Low and UH-1 Huey helicopters before beginning his training on the CV-22 as part of the initial cadre in 2006. While deployed in 2003, Major Voas supported the largest airdrop since Vietnam, earning the 2003 Cheney Award, and amassed more than 160 combat hours throughout his career.

Sergeant Lackey joined the Air Force in 1986 as an A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-15 Eagle crew chief and later retrained as an MH-53 flight engineer.  He earned various medals and awards including a Distinguished Flying Cross in 2002 for his actions during Operation Enduring Freedom.

"When it came to flying, Randy and JB were a (director of operations) dream," said Lt. Col. Matt Glover, the 8th SOS director of operations. "Flying was their priority, and nothing ever got in the way of that. They instructed with the intangible experience that only flight time could bestow, but more significantly, we lost men who inspired others, men of integrity who set the standards."

During the ceremony, Colonel Lengyel presented the Lackey and Voas families with the medals the Airmen earned for their key roles in the first deployment of the CV-22 in 2009.

Major Voas' family received an Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Medal and a Meritorious Service Medal, while Sergeant Lackey's family was presented an Air Medal and a Meritorious Service Medal.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt and Army Maj. Nathaniel Farris, both from the 75th Ranger Regiment, presented the families with the Army Ranger scroll, that's earned by those who have fought side-by-side with Army Rangers.

"These two brave men regularly volunteered for dangerous and challenging missions; men who understood the evil intent of our determined enemy and who willingly placed themselves between the enemy and our families," said Col. Buck Elton, the 1st Special Operations Group commander. "When we think of JB and Randy, we will not be reminded of emptiness and sorrow. We will be reminded of men we respect, men we emulate and men we will be forever grateful to have served with."

The families also received a memorial shadowbox and a flag-folding ceremony concluded the memorial service for the two Airmen.

Army Cpl. Michael Jankiewicz, a U.S. Ranger and a civilian employee also died in the in the crash.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.