Via Seamus - On June 23rd, a letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic asked about an incident from Luke Air Force Base:
Jun. 23, 2005 12:00 AMQuestion of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show?
Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune!
Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns' early-bird special?
Any response would be appreciated. - Tom MacRae, Peoria
Well, Tom McRae got his response from the Commander of the "Tom-Cruise-wannabes"...
Jun. 28, 2005 12:00 AMRegarding "A wake-up call from Luke's jets" (Letters, Thursday):
On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt Jeremy Fresques.
Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.
Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the president of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.
A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.
The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for the morning air show?"
The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.
Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
Luke Air Force Base
The writer is commander of the 63rd Fighter Squadron
Just a reminder that we are at war and that this won't be the last missing man formation to be flown...or the last person irritated by jet noise.
More on Captain Jeremy Fresques here...
Update 07-10-05: Thanks to several of you for emailing the link to Tom McRae's apology for his letter. Apparently, McRae is a Navy Veteran of the Viet Nam War. And for all of you expressing skepticism of this post, here is Snopes' evaluation which includes McRae's apology (thanks to Paul H. for the link to Snopes!).