Military News

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

'Yukla two-seven' Airmen remembered on 20th anniversary of crash

by John Parker
Tinker Public Affairs

9/29/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- On September 22, 1995 an E-3 Sentry airborne early warning aircraft went down at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, killing all 24 American and Canadian airmen aboard.

Two decades later, their memories live on and still inspire members of "America's Wing," according to Col. David Gaedecke, commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing out of Tinker Air Force Base.

"They gave their lives for us," Gaedecke said at a recent memorial service at Tinker. "It was why they're so special, so honorable and so worthy of remembrance. Though a solemn occasion, these 24 crew members would be so proud to know we have carried the torch for freedom and assured the freedom of our two nations."

Gaedecke said the crew members would have been proud of the special relationship maintained by the two nations. The Canadian detachment, which lost two airmen, has flown with their American counterparts at Tinker since 1979.

"They would cheer knowing we have taken the fight to our enemy abroad and protected our citizens at home," Gaedecke said. "Their deaths were not in vain. Their sacrifice serves as motivation and a reminder of greatness, of honor, of commitment and of excellence. " Gaedecke, Canadian Detachment Commander Lt. Col. Don "Boc" Saunders, retired former wing commander Col. Wylie Koiner and retired Master Sgt. Ken Lybolt laid a wreath at the base of the fallen airmen's monument. Lybolt, currently a civilian employee at Tinker, was the maintenance crew chief of Yukla 27 and witnessed the crash from the flight line.

The accident was caused when the plane, call sign Yukla 27, encountered a flock of Canada geese on takeoff, destroying the engines and wiping out thrust on the left side of the plane. The 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron plane was airborne for 42 seconds before banking into the ground about a mile from the end of the runway.

"Let's all remember to be grateful and to learn by the example of honor these 24 heroes set for us all those years ago," the colonel said. "May the crew of Yukla Two-Seven rest in peace and continue their faithful watch over all of us as angels of America's Wing."

The Airmen lost that day are:

1st Lt. Carlos A. Arriaga, weapons director
Tech. Sgt. Mark A. Bramer, flight engineer
Staff Sgt. Scott A. Bresson, airborne radar technician
Tech. Sgt. Mark A. Collins, communications systems operator
Senior Airman Lawrence E. DeFrancesco, communications systems operator
Tech. Sgt. Bart L. Holmes Sr., flight engineer
Lt. Col. Richard G. Leary, navigator
Master Cpl. Joseph J.P. Legault, Canadian Forces, communications technician
Capt. Robert J. Long, senior weapons director
Master Sgt. Stephen C. O'Connell, advanced airborne surveillance technician
Capt. Bradley W. Paakola, co-pilot
Tech. Sgt. Ernest R. Parrish, area specialist
Sgt. David L. Pitcher, Canadian Forces, battle director technician
Capt. Glenn "Skip" Rogers Jr., aircraft commander
Airman Jeshua C. Smith, airborne surveillance technician
Staff Sgt. Raymond O. Spencer Jr., airborne surveillance technician
Maj. Richard P. Stewart II, mission crew commander
Tech. Sgt. Charles D. Sweet Jr., airborne radar technician
Maj. Marlon R. Thomas, mission crew commander
Tech. Sgt. Timothy B. Thomas, computer display maintenance technician
Maj. Steven A. Tuttle, airborne surveillance officer
Tech. Sgt. Brian K. Van Leer, advanced airborne surveillance technician
Airman Darien F. Watson, airborne surveillance technician
Senior Airman Joshua N. Weter, computer display maintenance technician

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