by 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
10/3/2015 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN -- The
six Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing who died Oct. 2
when their C-130J Super Hercules aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff
from Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, were identified by the Department
of Defense today.
Killed in the crash were Capt. Jordan Pierson, Capt. Jonathan Golden,
Staff Sgt. Ryan Hammond, Senior Airman Quinn Johnson-Harris, Senior
Airman Nathan Sartain and Airman 1st Class Kcey Ruiz. Pierson, Golden,
Hammond and Johnson-Harris were deployed from 317th Airlift Group at
Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, while Sartain and Ruiz were deployed from
the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanscom Air Force Base,
The wing held a morning fallen comrade ceremony to honor the Airmen who
made the ultimate sacrifice while doing their duty on the combat
frontier and allow their fellow wingmen to pay their respect and mourn
After a brief prayer from a wing chaplain, the squadron commanders of
the fallen were given the opportunity to address the gathered Service
members and offer their thoughts.
Lt. Col. Mitchell Spillers, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron
commander, offered condolences and a message to support those grieving,
while reminding all to stay focused on the mission at hand to honor the
sacrifices of the lost Airmen.
"We've taken a blow, but I'm proud of the way we've come together and
supported each other...that must continue," said Spillers. "We're a
tactical airlift unit that provides a lifeline to our forces than no
else can. Our mission will continue and we must carry on. Jordan, JJ,
Ryan and JH all loved what we do, and would expect nothing less."
Maj. Met Berisha, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron
commander, echoed that the fallen Airmen loved what they did, and added
they did their duty without regard for their own safety to deliver
airpower capabilities here. He emphasized that Airmen must stay strong
and continue the mission.
"We must mount up and get back to our posts, get back to our patrols,
and get back in those aircraft and continue to do what we do
best...project combat airpower for our nation," said Berisha. "We all
know deep in our hearts, Defenders, that's exactly what Sartain and Ruiz
would have wanted."
Spillers later said his lost Airmen were some of his finest.
"This was one of my best crews; they had a positive impact on everyone
around them. They served honorably and will forever be remembered as
true tactical airlifters," said Spillers. "Our thoughts and prayers are
with their families and we will do everything in our power to comfort
them during this time of loss."
Berisha added that Sartain and Ruiz were the type of Airmen every commander sought to have on their team.
"I knew that without a doubt, that when our nation sent an aircraft into
harm's way into an unsecured and dangerous Afghan airfield that the
aircrew and aircraft were defended by the finest security forces Airmen
our Air Force could possibly deliver," said Berisha. "Simply put, Ruiz
and Sartain loved securing and projecting combat airpower for our
nation. Their families not only raised fine American patriots, but they
raised heroes that we all had the humble honor and phenomenal privilege
to serve alongside with here."
Chief Master Sgt. Matt Grengs, 455 AEW command chief, said Airmen across
the wing grieve for the lost Airmen, but reminded everyone to pull
together and continue the mission to honor their sacrifice.
"Today, we paused to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice as
part of the Vulture Nation," said Grengs. "We can only hope that the
anguish of the families of these fallen heroes is tempered with the
knowledge that their loved ones died doing what they loved for the
nation they loved...they did not die in vain. It is our duty to finish
the work of these fallen comrades."
Brig. Gen. Dave Julazadeh, 455th AEW commander, said today was about
honoring those whose lives were cut short and not forget their
"Today was a tough day for the Vulture Nation. We mourned with the
families of Jordan, JJ, Ryan, JH, Nathan and Kcey," said Julazadeh. "We
owe it to these warriors to complete the mission for which they gave
their lives...to protect and defend the freedoms upon which our great
nation was built. We must never forget them or the sacrifices they