Authorities have identified the pilot whose F-15 fighter jet went down in western Augusta County on Wednesday. Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot, Jr. was on his way from the 104th Fighter Wing in Massachusetts to New Orleans for routine maintenance when he called in an inflight emergency, lost radio contact, then crashed into a remote, wooded area near Deerfield. Authorities announced Thursday night that it was a fatal crash. Below is a statement from Barnes Air National Guard Base:
Following the fatal crash of a 104th Fighter Wing F-15C aircraft in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va. the family has asked that the unit share with the public the name of the pilot who was fatally injured Wednesday.
On behalf of the family of our fallen pilot and with a sense of profound sadness, I am sad to share that Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr., was killed tragically in Wednesday’s F-15 crash,” said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. “We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time,” added Keefe.
Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr. served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time Wing Inspector General, responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot with more than 2,300 flight hours. A 1996 Air Force Academy Graduate, Lt. Col. Fontenot was additionally a Weapons School Graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations. Following Active Duty assignments in Washington D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East, Lt. Col. Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February 2014. He was a decorated combat veteran, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal among others.
The investigation into the crash is ongoing.