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AFSOC honors JOCKEY-14 crew at 30th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Vernon R. Walter III
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – Air Commandos gathered with friends and family to honor the crew of JOCKEY-14 during the 30th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida, March 14, 2024.

An AC-130J Ghostrider gunship from the 16th Special Operations Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, performed a flyover during the ceremony. The flyover represented the continuing legacy of JOCKEY-14 and honored the fallen following Air Commando tradition.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Plehn, President of National Defense University, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.

“We gather today to honor the crew of JOCKEY-14—both living and dead—and we remember…with solemn pride…the lives and legacy of those JOCKEY-14 crewmembers whom we lost in the aftermath of that mission 30 years ago today,” said Plehn.

On March 14, 1994, JOCKEY-14, an AC-130H Spectre gunship crew from the 16th SOS, took off from Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya, to conduct a routine Joint Task Force mission in support of Operation CONTINUE HOPE II.

Operation CONTINUE HOPE II was a series of missions conducted by U.S. Armed Forces to support the people of Somalia after climate disasters and civil unrest. The focus was to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations by providing personnel, logistics, communications, intelligence support, a quick reaction force, and other elements as required.

An explosion occurred in the barrel of the 105mm cannon. Fragments from the explosion destroyed one engine on the left side of the aircraft, causing the propeller to fall off. The blast also damaged fuel and hydraulic lines to the second engine, requiring the crew to shut it down. JOCKEY-14 crashed just off the coast of Malindi, Kenya, where the impact caused the fuselage to break into two pieces.

That day, eight of the 14 crew members paid the ultimate sacrifice. The following Air Commandos were honored during the ceremony:

Capt. David Mehlhop, navigator

Capt. Mark Quam, electronic warfare officer

Capt. Anthony Stefanik Jr., fire control officer

Master Sgt. Roy Duncan, loadmaster

Tech Sg. Robert Daniel, sensor operator

Staff Sgt. Brian Barnes, aerial gunner

Staff Sgt. William Eyler, sensor operator

Staff Sgt. Michael Moser, aerial gunner

“My friends, as we mark another year since that day, we keep alive in our memory the entire crew of JOCKEY-14…for as long as we remember them…for as long as we say their names…they are still with us,” said Plehn.

Honoring JOCKEY-14 is a reminder of those lost, their sacrifices, and their families’ enduring sacrifice.

It reminds us to be ready to answer our Nation’s call to hold the line.