The three crew members killed Friday in the crash of a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft in the rugged mountains of Kyrgyzstan were stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
They were members of the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, according to the Air Force, which released their names on Sunday: Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, 27, of Boerne, Texas; Capt. Victoria “Tori” Ann Pinckney, 27, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Tech. Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III, 30, of Bakersfield, Calif.
Details of a memorial service for the three airmen are pending, Fairchild officials said in a news release Sunday.
“We’re a strong family here and it’s truly heart wrenching when members of this family make the ultimate sacrifice for their nation,” Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, was quoted as saying. “We will forever honor Tyler, Tori and Tre as patriots and heroes.”
Voss was a 2008 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he majored in aeronautical engineering, according to information on Fairchild’s Facebook page. He graduated from pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, in 2010 and was promoted to captain one year ago. He is survived by his parents, a brother and sister.
Pinckney, also a 2008 Air Force Academy graduate, was a new mother with a black belt in karate. She is survived by her husband, Richard Pinckney; 7-month-old son, Gabriel; her parents and two sisters.
Mackey was “the guy who always made a grand entrance and would light up the room with his humor and a smile,” says his wife, Megan, according to Fairchild’s Facebook page. Mackey is also survived by a daughter, Payton; his mother; three sisters and two brothers.
The bodies of the airmen were found over the weekend. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, according to the Air Force. The plane crashed in a rugged valley surrounded by steep mountains about 100 miles west of a U.S.-run air base shortly after take-off, according to The Associated Press.
The airmen and aircraft were assigned to the Transit Center at Manas, a base near Biskek that since 2001 has been a regional hub for American troops and materiel transiting to and from the war in Afghanistan, roughly an hours’ flight to the southwest. The airmen were headed south on a mission to refuel coalition aircraft in Afghanistan, according to Air Force officials.
The last major KC-135 crash involving a Fairchild crew occurred in 2006 at Manas, but all crew members survived, according to The Spokesman-Review.