WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Westfield residents, as well as the 104th Fighter Wing are mourning the loss of their friend, co-worker and fellow airman.
Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot joined the 104th Fighter Wing only about six months ago, but with the base being such a close-knit community, the news of his death broke many hearts here in Westfield.
Lt. Anthony Mutti from the 104th Fighter Wing said, “I think we all held out hope until the last minute.” While Bill Boisseau, the President of 7B’s Bar and Grill in Westfield, said, “Our wait staff, bartenders, myself asking, have you heard anything? Have you heard anything?”
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For more than a day, The 104th Fighter Wing and western Massachusetts residents waited, hoping for a good outcome, but a 2-day search in western Virginia ended tragically. Senator Don Humason told 22News, “It’s sad because the 104th is like a family. It’s a big part of the Greater Westfield community.”
The 104th’s Wing Inspector General, Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot died when his F-15C plane crashed in Deerfield, Virginia. Lt. Col Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard about six months ago, in February. Before coming to western Massachusetts he served in many different places, including Washington D.C., Alaska and Japan.
Now the western Massachusetts community mourns the loss of an experienced combat veteran. Sen Humason said, “I think we honor them by supporting the service that each and every man and woman of the 104th performs each day, whether it’s in peacetime or in war. It’s a dangerous job no matter what.”
Lt. Mutti said, “When something tragic like this happens you tend to kind of tuck it inside, and then you realize that other people are also suffering, and also they care about you, that makes it easier to let that out. And I think that’s important.”