Pilot from 115th Fighter Wing who went down over Hiawatha National Forest has been identified. Flights grounded following the crash.
The Wisconsin Air National Guard F-16 pilot who crashed Tuesday night, December 8, 2020, and was subsequently declared dead has been identified as 37-year old Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Capt. Jones was flying as a member of the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field Air National Guard Base outside Madison, Wisconsin.
At the time of the accident, Capt. Jones and his unit were participating in a routine training exercise over Michigan’s upper peninsula.
Capt. Jones initially joined the Air National Guard in 2011. According to a news release from his unit, he went on to graduate from basic qualification training in the F-16 Fighting Falcon during 2015. Capt. Jones then deployed operationally to the United States Pacific Command Theater Support Package in Japan during later 2015 and then to Korea in 2017. He is also a decorated combat veteran of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan during 2019.
During his distinguished service, Capt. Jones earned two Air Medals with combat “C” devices for exposure to significant risk in a combat environment while performing his mission.
In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s fatal crash, 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo has grounded all of his unit’s F-16s indefinitely pending inspections and the outcome of an accident investigation.
According to a Friday, December 11 report in The Air Force Times, reporters Diana Stancy Correll and Howard Altmann wrote that, “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”.
Stancy Correll and Altmann’s report went on to quote 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo as saying, “It [the unit] is grounded based on what we determine to be a safe time for us to fly again. 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.”
In the wake of the announcement of Capt. Jones’ death, the local community in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where Capt. Jones and his family live, held a socially distanced candlelight vigil in his honor to provide friends, colleagues and family members the opportunity to mourn the loss of Capt. Jones. Over 100 people were in attendance according to Channel 3000 News in Sun Prairie.
Capt. Jones leaves behind his wife and two young children who have lived in the Sun Prairie community for six years. Capt. Jone’s wife, Corinne Jones, spoke to the assembled group of mourners paying tribute to Capt. Jones and showing support for the family.
The local Channel 3000 report by Stephanie Fryer quoted Corinne Jones as telling the assembled group of mourners, “Since this happened, everything comes in waves. It’s the support of everyone here, everyone that can’t be here that’s helping me relight my candle.”