Air Force IDs Guard Captain Killed in Michigan F-16 Crash; Base Flight Ops Halted

Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones.
Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, 37, of Albuquerque, New Mexico with his child. (115th Fighter Wing Facebook page)

The Wisconsin Air National Guard has identified the F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot killed during a crash in Michigan's Upper Peninsula earlier this week as 37-year-old Capt. Durwood "Hawk" Jones.

Jones, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, joined the Guard in 2011, according to a Friday Facebook announcement from the 115th Fighter Wing out of Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison. He completed F-16 basic qualification training in 2015 and deployed to Japan that same year to support operations in the Pacific, the post said.

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Jones deployed to Korea in 2017, and to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel in 2019, it said.

Jones' awards include two Air Medals with combat 'C' devices.

During a press conference Friday, 115th Fighter Wing commander Col. Bart Van Roo said he has suspended flight operations at the wing indefinitely amid the ongoing investigation into the cause of the crash.

"It is grounded based on what we determine to be a safe time for us to fly again," Van Roo said.

Determining the causes of the crash and other contributing factors could take months, Van Roo said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Jones' F-16 crashed around 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Hiawatha National Forest, roughly 300 miles northeast of the base, during a routine night training mission. The wing had planned to conduct night drills Monday through Thursday, according to unit announcements.

Local emergency responders, the Coast Guard, additional Air Force units and other government agencies initiated immediate search-and-rescue efforts on the ground, in the air, and in the water following the crash.

Jones is survived by his wife and two children, the State Journal said.

In June, 1st Lt. David Schmitz, of the 77th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, died after attempting to land at the end of an F-16 nighttime qualification sortie.

The Air Force found that Schmitz could not recover the jet after he severely damaged the aircraft's landing gear upon touching down, but added that there were additional contributing factors that led to his death -- including an ejection attempt that failed because of a seat malfunction.

In 2017, the Air Force announced that Truax Field would join Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont and Dannelly Field in Alabama to host the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. The base is slated to receive the stealth fighter jet in 2023.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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