ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Family members and fellow airmen gathered at Dyess Memorial Park Wednesday afternoon to honor the memories of the four Dyess airmen killed in a 2015 plane crash.
On October 2, 2015, a C-130J with 11 inside, 6 of them airmen, crashed just 28 seconds after liftoff from Jalalabad Airfield in Afghanistan. The plane collided with a tower which killed three individuals bringing the total number of lives lost to 14.
The six airmen killed were: Capt. Jordan B. Pierson, Capt. Jonathan J. Golden, Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Hammond, Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris, Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, and Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz
Sartain and Ruiz were not stationed at Dyess but were from the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.
The memories of the airmen killed in the crash have not faded into the darkness but have a literal light shone on them on the anniversary of the plane crash.
When the clock strikes 1:46 p.m. at Dyess Memorial Park, the sun shines directly on a plaque directly center at the park, engraved into the metal are the six names of the fallen airmen.
Family members bearing witness to today’s shining say the light was like a beacon – beckoning all who see it to honor all who serve.
“They sacrificed for all of us to keep us free and that’s what we need to remember. That’s why this place is so great, it’s for the community, for the world to see,” said Yvette Harris, mother of Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris.
Gloria Golden, mother of Capt. Jonathan J. Golden, has visited the Key City every year since her son’s death. This year’s visit, she says, afforded her the opportunity to make deeper connections with the families that share her grief.
“It is wonderful to hook up with the others. We’ve talked and they’re making plans to come next year – the one that couldn’t be here this year,” said Golden.
Though the lives of the late, brave airmen can never be replaced, their legacy shines on in the hearts of their loved ones and the Air Force community that works to honor them.
“We know he’s in heaven , we know he’s flying with these guys in heaven as they’re wingman,” said Golden.