Late Friday morning the Air Force named the men killed in the C-17 that crashed at Elmendorf Air Force Base Wednesday evening. Each of the men had been instrumental in the "stand up" of the C-17 squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, a partnership between active duty Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard that began in 2007. The information below is from an Alaska National Guard press release.
Capt. Jeffrey Hill, 31, was the youngest to die in the crash. The pilot was from York, Penn., and loved hunting, fishing, and camping. While the other three men were Air National Guard, Hill was active duty and had been since he enlisted in 1998. Hill worked in aircraft maintenance for the first few years of his career but in 2002 he started pilot training in Mississippi. He remained there, working as an instructor pilot and training the next generation of Air Force pilots, until 2007 when he was assigned to stand up the new C-17 squadron in Alaska.
Maj. Aaron "Zippy" Malone, an Anchorage boy, was 36 years old when he died. He started his 12-year Air National Guard career in Iowa but later transferred to Montana to fly F-16s. After flying in both Operation Noble Eagle and in a deployment on the Korean Peninsula, Malone transferred to the Alaska Air National Guard in 2008 when they started to fly the C-17.
Maj. Michael Freyholtz, 34, was from a small town in northern Minnesota. He was chosen to fly the C-17 right out of pilot training and while on active duty he worked as an instructor pilot. At one point he even worked for Boeing as a full-time C-17 simulator instructor. More recently, Freyholtz had traveled with the Air Force Thunderbirds to show off the C-17 to air show audiences. Freyholtz was the first outside pilot hired for the new Guard squadron that flew the C-17.
Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo, 47, was the loadmaster on the C-17 that crashed Wednesday. He had a long military career, serving at one point in the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the Air Force Reserve. He joined the Alaska Air National Guard in 1997 and for his first 11 years he flew the HC-130 on rescue missions, saving the lives of 66 Alaskans during that time. He deployed to Afghanistan several times to fly combat search and rescue missions and also flew personnel recovery missions in the Somali Peninsula. In 2008 Cicardo was selected to be part of the initial group that started the Guard unit that flew the C-17.
Contact Joshua Saul at jsaul(at)alaskadispatch.com