The Wisconsin Air Natonal Guard identified the pilot killed in an F-16 Fighting Falcon crash on Tuesday.
Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, 37, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, lost his life when his F-16 crashed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Dec. 8, according to a post on the wing’s Facebook page.
Jones joined the Air National Guard in 2011 and graduated from F-16 basic qualification training in 2015, according to the post. He is a decorated combat veteran, deploying as a part of a United States Pacific Command Theater Support Package to Japan in 2015 and to Korea in 2017. He deployed again in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to Afghanistan in 2019.
Jones was awarded two Air Medals with combat “C” devices, which are awarded to individuals who have been personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action.
Earlier Friday, 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo announced he has grounded flights indefinitely following the crash.
The mishap occurred at approximately 8 p.m. Tuesday in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. At a press briefing Friday morning, Van Roo told reporters the wing has grounded the wing’s F-16s indefinitely in the wake of the accident.
“It is grounded based on what we determine to be a safe time for us to fly again,” Van Roo said. “Obviously we conduct a mission that we need to continue, so we are slowly and deliberately looking at all things until we determine that we are safe to fly again.”
The accident is under investigation and will involve multiple phases: an initial phase that will gather and preserve information and should last about a week; a second phase that will determine what exactly occurred and will last approximately 30 days; and a final phase that seeks to identify the cause of the accident and could last more than a year.
“I would like to explain that the investigation is a deliberate, three phase process, that examines all aspects of this incident,” Van Roo said Friday. “It will look into preflight activities, maintenance, aircraft integrity, pilot briefings and training — all with the goal of determining exactly how this accident occurred.”
Van Roo declined to share specifics concerning the crash, citing the ongoing investigation.
At the time of the crash, the pilot was engaged in a routine training exercise over Michigan’s Hiawatha National Forest.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.