Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fairchild's fallen aircrew honored

by Senior Airman Earlandez Young
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/28/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Airman and hero. Husband and wife. Mother and father. Son and daughter. Friend and colleague. Mentor and role model. These were just some of the words used to describe three fallen warriors.

Family, friends, service members, distinguished visitors and people from the Spokane community gathered for a memorial service at the Inland Northwest Bank Performing Arts Center to honor and pay their respects to Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, Capt. Victoria A. Pinckney and Tech. Sgt. Herman "Tre" Mackey III.

The three Airmen died tragically May 3, 2013, when their KC-135 Stratotanker crashed in Kyrgyzstan. They were deployed to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron from Fairchild in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We will not forget the sacrifice of these patriots answering the call of others so they may prevail," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "They sadly join 2,090 other Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who gave their lives overseas in Operation Enduring Freedom, since freedom was attacked on 9-11.

"We all know we have air dominance in Afghanistan providing a blanket of protection to our spirited ground warriors. What is important to note is this air dominance is borne on the backs of air warriors sitting in the audience today as well as across our great air mobility force, we know as well, it was borne tirelessly by the tanker crew of Capt. Voss, Capt. Pinckney and Tech. Sgt. Mackey."

About 1,800 people attended the memorial service for the fallen brothers and sister of America.

While the memorial service was solemn, it was also an opportunity for those affected by the tragedy to begin the healing process.

Voss, a native of Boerne, Texas, was a 2008 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, majoring in aeronautical engineering. He received his pilot's wings in March of 2010, becoming an aircraft commander three years later in March 2013. He is survived by his parents, Wayne and Marcy Voss, brother, Forest, and sister, Morgan.

Voss's mother, Marcelle D. Voss described her son as adventurous, helpful and someone who everyone loved.

"Today, I thought of three things we might learn from Tyler," she said. "There are blessings to be gained from this situation. Tyler lived life to the fullest. He followed his passions and lived his dream as a pilot. We don't have to be as adventurous as Tyler with his fast cars and motorcycles, but living life following our passions and dreams gives us a life of no regrets.

"Second, he helped his friends and he helped his neighbors. I remember he was 16 years old and had just recently gotten his license, and he stopped to help pull someone out of a low water crossing after a heavy rain ... Tyler even helped strangers. So, let's pass on this brotherly love and never pass up an opportunity to help those in need. And finally, Tyler was prepared to meet his maker, so children help your parents, husbands and wives ... express your love to one another ... ladies and gentlemen - forgive someone who has wronged you."

Pinckney was a native of Palmdale, Calif. A 2008 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, she earned a Bachelor's Degree in systems engineering space systems, as well as a Master's Degree in psychology. She is survived by her husband, Richard Pinckney, and her seven-month-old son, Gabriel. She also leaves behind her parents, Michelle and Larry Castro, and two sisters, Nichol and Samantha Castro; her grandparents, Terry and Lt. Col. (Ret) Don Castro, and Josephine and Emil Grulkowski; mother-in-law Nina Pinckney and Wally Slate, and father-in-law Richard and his wife, Lorraine Pinckney; her three sisters-in-law, Christine, Stephanie and Jeanna Pinckney; as well as Tyler and Kevin Obrock and grandparents Anna Bull, Donald Bull and Virginia Hunt, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

She is remembered as a teammate and a devoted woman with an infectious smile who cherished and appreciated all life's moments.

"Behind a infectious smile, Tory was a woman who knew what she wanted in life and was willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to get it," said Capt. Ashley Barnes, a friend. When we were seniors at the academy, a freshman on our rugby team was having trouble learning how to tackle. This particular freshman would attempt to make tackles leading with her head as if she was a bull charging a matador. This freshman had exhausted the rest of our patience and we had doomed her spending the rest of her life in a neck brace.

"Then Tory took over her coaching. She spent countless hours teaching the girl how to tackle which meant Tory spent countless hours being tackled, but her teammate got it right. Tory was able to succeed where the rest of us had failed and her patience and love for the game not only saved the girl's neck but also made our team better players. Her patience carried on into her work and she was a level-headed teammate who the people of the 93rd could call on. Tory tackled life with the same graceful determination and succeeded in what seemed like everything she did."

Mackey, a native of Bakersfield, Calif., enlisted in the Air Force in 2001 as a boom operator. He later became a sensor operator for remotely piloted aircraft as part of career broadening, but returned to the KC-135 as a boom operator in 2012. He is survived by his wife, Megan Mackey, and his daughter, Payton. He also leaves behind his mother, Debbie Mackey; sisters, Beckah, Donna and Phyllicia; as well as brothers, Tristan and Yusef.

"At the time I met Tre in 2004, I was going through some rough times ... Tre made it a point to step up and do the right thing by helping me out ... he knew no stranger," said Staff. Sgt. Ben Davis, a friend. "He always had the knack of finding a way to cheer me up or make me laugh. He'd help anyone find the 'silver lining' no matter the situation. He could bring a room to tears by laughing without even trying. From the time we met in 2004, our friendship would only grow -- because I had never met anyone like Tre."

The Fairchild Honor Guard closed off the ceremony with a 21 Gun Salute followed by the playing of Taps.

"May God bless our fallen patriots, their families and our great, great nation," said Newberry. "We will always remember our happy few and continue to follow their starlight."

In memory of fallen warriors

by Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

5/28/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Master Sgt. Chris Norris, a boom operator assigned to the 18th Air Refueling Squadron stands with Lt. Col. Michael Moeding and Lt. Col. Travis Clark, both pilots assigned to the 18 ARS, during a moment of silence at a memorial service for the crew of SHELL 77 at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., May 28, 2013.

The Fairchild-based aircrew, consisting of Capt. Mark Voss of Boerne, Texas, Capt. Victoria A. Pinckney of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Tech Sgt. Herman Mackey III of Bakersfield, Calif., perished when their McConnell-based KC-135 Stratotanker crashed in northern Kyrgyzstan, May 3, 2013.

Members of Team McConnell gathered today for a short memorial service to honor the fallen Airmen.