FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Despite the challenges of the Coronavirus Disease 2019, Team Fairchild hosted a memorial for the deceased Shell 77 Airmen at the base memorial park, May 4, 2020.
The memorial honors the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron’s Airmen: Capt. Tyler Voss, Capt. Victoria Pinckney, and Tech. Sgt. Tre Mackey III, who lost their lives to a tragic accident while deployed to the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, May 3, 2013.
“The Shell 77 memorial reminds us of the bravery of Tyler, Tori and Tre as they sacrificed their lives in preserving freedom around the globe. Additionally, this memorial reminds us of their families who bore such a terrible loss and have sacrificed greatly,” said Maj. Gen. William Spangenthal, Air Education and Training director of operations and 376th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. “Tyler, Tori and Tre’s legacies continue in those that served alongside them and in their families who miss them dearly.”
The loss of these Airmen was felt throughout the squadron, the base and the Air Force. A Shell 77 marker was added to Fairchild’s memorial park and a tribute event held each year to help provide a focus for Airmen to pay tribute to those lost in the line of duty.
“We’ve had people reach out to us [and tell us the impact that these Airmen made]; Voss has a Middle School named after him and we have different schools that are reaching out after hearing the story wanting to order shirts,” said Master Sgt. Orlando Infante, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron superintendent and coordinator for the event. “It’s been seven years and there are Airmen stationed here that knew the individuals very closely. There are people in the community that personally knew these individuals, so it’s still very near and dear to our hearts and we hope to maintain that in the years ahead.”
Recognizing the importance of the event, Team Fairchild livestreamed the event to help connect with those that cannot attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve gotten a great response from the families of these Airmen,” Infante said. “Going virtual is an awesome ability and is hopefully something that we keep doing even after these COVID-19 measures are eased, to give family members a way to attend if they aren’t able to make it out.”
A tribute KC-135 Stratotanker flyover was dedicated to the Airmen that lost their lives during a moment of silence during the memorial.
“The event is being held around the time that they took off, 2:00 p.m., to mirror the last flight time the crew took off in Kyrgyzstan,” Infante said. “We coordinated the flyover after the moment of silence to honor their memory; the crew that will be flying the aircraft will be all 93rd ARS crew members to pay respects to Voss, Pinckney, and Mackay.”
Further, the Shell 77 Memorial shows Airmen, their families, and their friends the ultimate sacrifice that these brave Airmen made. The ability to go virtual during this time provides full incorporation of the family and friends of the Airmen to attend and participate during the Memorial Service.