New Castle man dies in plane crash; may be first U.S. casualty in ISIS fight
A 30-year-old Air Force captain from New Castle died Monday when his F-16 jet fighter crashed in the Mideast as it started a combat mission against ISIS.
The Air Force said in a statement released today that Capt. William H. DuBois of New Castle died in the crash near a coalition air base in the Middle East. DuBois was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base in central South Carolina.
“Will was a wonderful young man with incredible spirit and he was well-liked by everyone he met. We are numb with shock,” said his uncle, Bob DuBois. “He has wanted to fly since he was a kid.”
Dubois was the son of William “Ham” DuBois, owner of Innermountain Distributing of New Castle. He is a graduate of Rifle High School and the University of Colorado, and participated in ROTC in high school and college.
“The death of Capt. DuBois is a sad and tragic loss for the Air Force and our most sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and squadron members during this difficult time,” Col. Stephen F. Jost, 20th Fighter Wing commander, said in the Air Force statement.
“Capt. DuBois served his country honorably; he was a valuable member of Team Shaw and will be greatly missed by all.”
The aircraft left its base late Sunday for a combat mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, as the operation against ISIS is called. The military would not disclose where the air base is located because of host nation sensitivities, but CNN said it was in Jordan.
The U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of U.S. military operations in the Mideast, said the crash did not occur in either Iraq or Syria where the American-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State extremists.
The Associated Press said F-16s from Shaw specialize in air-to-ground attacks on ground-based military forces and also attack anti-aircraft installations with a variety of weapons.
The squadrons at Shaw have deployed repeatedly in recent years to support U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Mideast.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the F-16 apparently turned around before engaging in any combat mission.
The Pentagon spokesman said the crash was being investigated and that it was too early to say why the pilot was unable to eject.
Shaw Air Force Base serves as a hybrid Air Force and Army installation. It is home to both U.S. Army Central and U.S. Air Forces Central, the two commands responsible for planning and supplying U.S. forces serving from the Mideast to Afghanistan. They are the Army and Air Force units that report to the U.S. Central Command, which has its headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
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