Capt. Jeffrey Haney joined the Air Force in 2003 and had been at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, more than four years. (AIR FORCE)
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Capt. Jeffrey Haney dreamed of being a pilot since he was a kid.
He joined the Air Force in 2003, and soon he was flying one of the military's premier fighters — the F-22 Raptor.
Air Force officials say Haney, 31, died in a single-seat F-22 when it crashed in the Alaska wilderness Nov. 16. Though his remains had not been found, friends and family at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, held a private memorial service Nov. 22.
Michael Viane, who has been living with Haney's mother for 23 years, said Haney wanted to serve his country and was committed to the Air Force.
"He knew the risks of the job, but it never scared him, that's for sure," Viane said. "He loved doing what he was doing."
The search for Haney at first was treated as a rescue. Search teams scoured the rugged terrain in hopes of finding evidence that he had safely ejected. But three days after the crash, on Nov. 19, Haney's wing commander said search teams had found a piece of the ejection seat near the crash site and that the pilot could not have survived.
Haney's close-knit family has pulled tightly together as the story has unfolded, keeping in touch in person and by phone, said Rosemary Terry, Haney's grandmother.
Terry said Haney was a smart and a talented F-22 pilot and that the family had "never worried about him flying that most dangerous plane."
"We never worried about him because we knew that he knew what he had to do," Terry said.
Haney leaves behind a wife, Anna, and two young daughters. Although his job was a demanding one, Terry said that Haney was devoted to his family and always made time for them.
"The minute he came in the door at night, he was there helping the children," Terry said. "He's going to be missed."
Haney was assigned to the 3rd Wing's 525th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf-Richardson; he had been at the base more than four years.
"We are all extremely saddened by the loss of this great American, airman and friend," Col. Jack Mc- Mullen, the 3rd Wing commander, said in a statement. "Captain Ha- ney will be missed by the entire 3rd Wing and the JBER community.
"Right now, our focus is on Jeff's family," McMullen continued. "We mourn their loss, and they are in our thoughts and prayers. We are doing everything in our power to offer them support and aid them during this time of grief."
Haney's family is asking that instead of flowers or gifts, donations be made to a college fund for his daughters.
Those donations can be made through the Air Warrior Courage Foundation website, www.Air WarriorCourage.org, specifying "For the Jeffrey Haney children." Checks can also be mailed to the Air Warrior Courage Foundation, P.O. Box 877, Silver Spring, MD 20918-0877. The check's "for" line should say "For the Jeffrey Haney children."