WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– A community is mourning Thursday morning as they woke up to the news that the missing 104th Fighter Wing pilot is dead. 22News spoke to people in the community who said that they were really hopeful they would find the pilot alive, and are devastated by this outcome.
Spokesman for the 104th Fighter Wing, Major Matthew Mutti, told 22News while the search was still going on for the pilot, it was a stressful time for both the family and on the base.
Mutti also said they had Chaplains, other religious leaders, and mental health professionals on the base and with the family to try and help everyone through the very difficult time.
22News spoke to Major Mutti again early Friday morning as workers returned to the base following this tragic news. Mutti said the loss of their pilot, “reinforces a lot of things about the line of work we do. That it is dangerous and that it’s a reminder of and demonstrates the closeness of the military family.”
Mutti went on to say that this loss also shows they are still a team and that was proven by their ability to come together for a common goal. He said, “This is of course not the outcome we wanted but we are still bringing our pilot home.” He added that it is a testament of the hard work of all the men and women on the search teams.
Now, the focus of the 104th is on the family and to take care of them. Mutti said they are making sure they have the resources they need as they grieve this devastating loss.
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Since the news of the pilots death we have also heard from leaders in this community. Senator Don Humason, who is from Westfield, sent the following statement to 22News:
“I join with the men and women of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes in the feelings of senseless loss and profound sadness. The Barnestormers are a close knit group and are like part of the family of all of us in the greater Westfield area. When any part of that family is lost all of us mourn. My most sincere condolences to the pilot’s family, his co-workers, and fellow warriors. In war and in peace it is still a dangerous job that few do as well, or as proudly and professionally, as the members of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. God bless them all. Rest in Peace.”