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Loss of Lt. Colonel Fontenot Felt Across Western Mass.

photo Barnes ANGB

photo Barnes ANGB

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — The loss of Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr. is being felt across western Massachusetts from the military family he was part of to the community he served.

At Barnes Air National Guard base in Westfield Friday he was remembered.

It’s been a difficult two days here at the 104th Fighter Wing.

Wednesday the plane went down, military here hoping its pilot survived and learning last night that he did not make it out of the plane.

Lt. Colonel Fontenot was well respected here on base.  He lived in Longmeadow.

A 1996 graduate of the Air Force academy, he joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February of this year after a long and distinguished combat flying career.   He was wing inspector general of the 104th. F-15 instructor pilot. Had more than 23-hundred hours of flying time in the F-15 and served all over the world and was highly decorated for his service.

Now he begins his final trip home.

His loss is being heavily felt here by civilian and military alike.

Lt. Anthony Mutti of the 104th Fighter Wing told us, “Col Fontenot was a valued member of our organization and will be missed the 104th is going to cope.  We’re strong with a strong history and we will pull through this and be stronger for it.”

Raymond Lievens from Southwick shared his thoughts about the pilot with us saying, “Certainly he was providing an essential service to the country, so we have to appreciate his serving along with the danger involved. You have to feel sorry for the family, they deserve our consideration and prayers.”

Brian Barnes, Barnes Airport Manager told us, “Would like to tell all members of the community to stay strong, it’s a sad event but freedom is never free.  The 104th will get back on their feet. They’re a close knit group they’ll be fine in the end but we’ll support them because they have to go out and do the job.”

Lt. Colonel Fontenot’s remains were found at the crash site.

Still no word on why he didn’t eject from the F-15 after reporting an inboard emergency.

Lt. Mutti also told us today Lt. Colonel Fontenot’s remains will be taken from the crash scene and brought to Dover Air Force base for processing before being flown back to western Massachusetts.

“We express our condolences to the family of the Lt. Colonel and we are sad what happened.  Every day in Westfield we look to the sky and see the planes go off never thinking somebody’s not going to come back.  Westfield and the 104th have a great tradition together and our hearts are very sad with the 104th,” says Mayor Daniel Knapik.

Funeral arrangements have not been released yet.

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