COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A 30-year-old Air Force pilot from Colorado who was killed in a crash of his F-16 jet in the Mideast was mourned Tuesday as a patriot willing to put his life on the line for his country.
Capt. William H. “Will” DuBois, of New Castle, Colorado, died Monday when his fighter jet crashed near an unidentified coalition base in the Middle East, the Pentagon said.
The Air Force statement said DuBois is survived by his wife, Ashley DuBois.
In a statement released by the Air Force, William DuBois’ family described him as honorable, adventurous and brave.
“Will was anything but generic,” said his mother, Donna DuBois.
His father, William “Ham” DuBois, said his son’s life was short but well lived.
The elder DuBois said his son was a huge fan of the movie “Top Gun” and wanted to be a fighter pilot since he was 10 years old.
“He was an awesome F-16 pilot. He was a devoted son, a loving husband. He was just the complete package. He got taken from us way too early, but man, what a life he lived.”
When Capt. DuBois was chosen to fly F-16s, he remarked, “‘Oh boy, did I get into it now,'” his father recounted.
“But he always thrived under the pressure,” the father said. “He would excel when the pressure was the greatest. Those are not platitudes. That is the flat-out truth. … I am crushed. My wife and I are just crushed. I feel broken.”
Col. Stephen F. Jost, the commander of DuBois’ 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base in central South Carolina, said DuBois was a patriot who was willing to risk his life for his country.
In a written statement, Jost offered condolences to DuBois’ family, friends and squadron members and said he would be greatly missed.
The Pentagon release said DuBois died while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the military’s name for the campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria that began Aug. 8.
The release did not specify where the crash occurred. For security reasons, the Air Force rarely identifies where its aircraft are flying in the Middle East.
DuBois was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, which flies out of Shaw Air Force Base.
In October, Air Force officials said a squadron of F-16 fighter jets departed Shaw to join in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
The F-16s from Shaw specialize in air-to-ground attacks on ground-based military forces and also attack anti-aircraft installations with a variety of weapons.
The squadrons at Shaw have deployed repeatedly in recent years to support U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Mideast.
Earlier this week, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the F-16 had crashed while returning to its base.
Warren said the jet developed a problem related to maintenance shortly after takeoff, turned around and crashed before landing. Warren said the pilot apparently turned around before engaging in any combat mission.
The Pentagon spokesman said the crash was being investigated and that it was too early to say why the pilot was unable to eject.
Warren cited the sensitivities of host nations in the Middle East for not disclosing where the incident occurred.
The U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of U.S. military operations in the Mideast, said the crash did not occur in either Iraq or Syria where the American-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State extremists.
Shaw Air Force Base serves as a hybrid Air Force and Army installation. It is home to both U.S. Army Central and U.S. Air Forces Central, the two commands responsible for planning and supplying U.S. forces serving from the Mideast to Afghanistan.
They are the Army and Air Force units that report to the U.S. Central Command, which has its headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
By SUSANNE M. SCHAFER, Associated Press
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