An F-15 pilot who fatally crashed in the mountains of Western Virginia on Wednesday has been identified by Massachusetts Air National Guard officials as Lieutenant Colonel Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr.
MA Air National Guard pilot killed in Virginia F15 jet crash identified as Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr.
— Ally Donnelly (@AllyNECN) August 29, 2014
Fontenot was part of the 104th Fighter Wing based in Westfield, Mass. He had been flying an F-15 Eagle from Massachusetts to New Orleans for a scheduled system upgrade on the jet when it crashed near Deerfield, Va., on Wednesday morning.
The jet crash shook residents; however no injuries occurred on the ground. Investigators said the jet hit the ground at a high speed, leaving behind a deep crater and a large debris field in a heavily wooded area adjacent to a mountain in the George Washington National Forest.
Officials carried out a two-day search before announcing late Thursday that Fontenot had been killed in the crash. Rescuers had ruled it a possibility that he may have been able to eject before the impact, but eventually his body was found in the wreckage.
Radio signals from Fontenot had been detected just before the crash but not afterwards.
“We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time,” Colonel James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing, said in a statement.
According to the unit, Fontenot’s job entailed inspecting planes and he was also an F-15 pilot instructor with more than 2,300 flight hours under his belt. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1996, officials said, as reported by Boston Global.
Officials said Fontenot had been a squadron commander in multiple locations, and had served on active duty in Washington, D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska, as well as the Middle East. Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard full-time in February. He was a decorated combat veteran with 17 years of experience flying planes, military officials in Massachusetts said Friday.