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Jockey 14 memorial honors fallen airmen

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Koegl, 16th Special Operations Squadron commander, renders a salute to a wreath memorializing the Air Commandos during a Jockey 14 memorial March 13, 2015 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Koegl presided over a memorial ceremony that recalled Jockey 14’s tragic crash off the coast of Kenya in March 1994. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Koegl, 16th Special Operations Squadron commander, renders a salute to a wreath memorializing the Air Commandos during a Jockey 14 memorial March 13, 2015 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Koegl presided over a memorial ceremony that recalled Jockey 14’s tragic crash off the coast of Kenya in March 1994. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

A U.S. Air Force AC-130H Spectre gunship soars over the Jockey 14 memorial March 13, 2015 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The flyover by one of only two Spectres remaining at Cannon called attention both to the heritage of the AC-130H crew that perished when Jockey 14 crashed and to the venerable airframe’s pending retirement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

A U.S. Air Force AC-130H Spectre gunship soars over the Jockey 14 memorial March 13, 2015 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The flyover by one of only two Spectres remaining at Cannon called attention both to the heritage of the AC-130H crew that perished when Jockey 14 crashed and to the venerable airframe’s pending retirement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

Air Commandos from the 27th Special Operations Wing stand to salute the nine fallen crewmembers of Jockey 14 March 13, 2015 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Cannon’s Honor Guard played Taps as guests reflected on the crew’s names, legacy and spirit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

Air Commandos from the 27th Special Operations Wing stand to salute the nine fallen crewmembers of Jockey 14 March 13, 2015 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Cannon’s Honor Guard played Taps as guests reflected on the crew’s names, legacy and spirit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Air Commandos gathered March 13 to pay tribute to the crew of Jockey 14, a 16th Special Operations Squadron AC-130H Spectre gunship that crashed off the coast of Kenya in 1994.

The 27th Special Operations Wing Commander, Col. Ben Maitre, narrated a portion of the ceremony, which included a commemorative wreath laying, outlining the sequence of the crash that claimed the lives of eight members of the Air Force Special Operations Command family 21 years ago.

Maitre set the scene of the tragic crash, explaining the 16th SOS’s deployment in conflict- and famine-ravaged Somalia, where civil war first ripped through the nation then threatened efforts to carry out humanitarian aid to victims of the warring factions. The squadron deployed for Operation CONTINUE HOPE in June 1993, flying 32 interdiction missions in their first 40 days.

“The loss of Preditor and eight crewmembers was a tragic event in our history,” said Maitre. “Thanks to the efforts of the Jockey 14 crew, six crewmembers survived the bailout and ditching that day. The 16th SOS and larger C-130 communities learned many lessons from the loss, and the squadron was able to move on while never forgetting the Air Commandos who died. In the end, nine crew members ultimately perished from injuries sustained during the crash. Today, we remember their heroism and sacrifice on that evening 21 years ago, as part of our history and our heritage.”

As a final tribute to the crewmembers who perished, the 16th SOS conducted an aerial fly-over with an AC-130H Spectre gunship, one of only two Spectres remaining at Cannon. This demonstration also marked the final time the squadron would fly an AC-130H for the memorial service.

“As Air Commandos, we have known and flown with those we remember today; those who have come before and those who continue to stand watch at freedom’s door,” Maitre said.

In memory: Capt. David J. Melhop, Capt. Anthony Stefanik, Capt. Nark A. Quam, Master Sgt. Roy S. Duncan, Tech. Sgt. Robert L. Daniel, Tech. Sgt. Steve Anderson, Staff Sgt. William C. Eyler, Staff Sgt. Brian P. Barnes and Staff Sgt. Mike E. Moser.