UPDATED 12:40 PM PT – Saturday, December 12, 2020
The Wisconsin Air National Guard identified the pilot who crashed earlier this week as Captain Durwood Jones.
On Tuesday evening, the F-16 fighter jet, which was part of Wisconsin’s 115th Fighter Wing, went down in the Hiawatha National Forest in Northern Michigan. According to reports, the crash claimed the life of the sole pilot flying the aircraft.
“The Fighter Wing and the Wisconsin National Guard are deeply saddened by this tragic loss,” Wing Commander Col. Bart Van Roo stated. “Our dedication to duty and the training that is required of this job develops a bond that is like no other.”
He added that the loss of a member is a very difficult thing for such a committed group of professionals.
According to the Air Force, 37-year-old Jones joined the Air National Guard in 2011 and was described as a ‘decorated combat veteran,’ having been deployed to Japan, Korea and Afghanistan.
The New Mexico native was reportedly flying a routine training mission when he crashed. He’s survived by his wife and two children.
The commander of the 115th Fighter Wing said all flying operations are on stand-down and the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
“Safety here at the 115th continues to be our top priority,” Roo said. “The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Air Force and the Fighter Wing is committed to working closely with the Air Force to ensure a thorough investigation is completed to determine the cause of the crash.”
On Friday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order, which ordered U.S. and state flags to be flown at half staff out of respect for Jones.
The order takes effect on Saturday and will last through December 18.