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U-2 Community Mourns Loss of Veteran Pilot Killed in Crash

A U-2 Dragon Lady displays nose art honoring Lt. Col. Steve "Shooter" Eadie Sept. 23, 2016, at Beale Air Force Base, California. (Courtesy Photo)
A U-2 Dragon Lady displays nose art honoring Lt. Col. Steve "Shooter" Eadie Sept. 23, 2016, at Beale Air Force Base, California. (Courtesy Photo)

Family and friends gathered to remember Lt. Col. Ira S. "Shooter" Eadie on Monday in a local park in Lincoln, California, where they mourned the loss of their fellow pilot and gracious neighbor.

Hundreds came out to the park, raising candles high as a saxophone played "Amazing Grace" in tribute to the pilot who was killed on Sept. 20 after a two-seater U-2 trainer aircraft, assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, part of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, crashed in northern California.

Another pilot who remains unidentified was injured in the accident, but sustained non-life-threatening injuries, the Air Force has said.

On Friday, pilots and leaders from Beale Air Force Base honored him on the flightline -- with a U-2 christened in his name.

The U-2's nose art included a large American flag, with both Navy and Air Force wings. Eadie served in both services, with a combined service of 20 years, local news outlets reported. Four T-38 Talons launched after the U-2s to form a four-ship formation.

"This morning, we safely put the Dragon Lady back in the air over northern California," Col. A.J. Werner, 9th Operations Group commander, said in a statement. The flight took off at 9:01 a.m. to mimic his last takeoff time.

"We took a pause from flying the U-2 locally over the last 72 hours in response to Tuesday's incident," Werner continued. "While we did not halt U-2 missions globally over that period, we need to take care of our family here at Beale [Air Force Base]."

Friends have set up a memorial fund to raise $120,000 for his his wife and six children. Donations as of Tuesday amounted to $95,240 on the YouCaring crowdfunding page.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.