Lt. Fontenot’s death is the first since 1986

The F-15’s at Barnes were build around 1986

U.S. Air National Guard Col. James Keefe, commander of the 104th Fighter Wing, takes questions from reporters in front of Barnes Air National Guard Base, in Westfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – “Ultimately what we’re trying to do is take care of each other, take care of the families, and remain focused on taking care of our mission,” said Major Matthew Mutti of the 104th Fighter Wing.

The death of Lieutenant Colonel Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr. is now a part of the Barnes Air National Guard’s history. His death marks the 12th for the BarneStormers.

Nancy Rivera of Springfield said, “I think it’s sad. I wish he would’ve survived, but unfortunately most people die in an airplane crash and my heart goes out to the family.”

The last death before Fontenot was in 1986. Since 1947, members of the 104th Fighter Wing have died to preserve freedom.

In 2005, Barnes was asked to take on the Air Sovereignty Alert Mission to protect the northeast from the Canadian border to Washington D.C., protecting about a quarter of the U.S. population.

The air base uses F-15’s which are meant to engage with any threat in the airspace through a precise radar system. The F-15’s at Barnes were build around 1986.

Due to the rich history that lives here at Barnes, people here think of each other as not just a team, but a family. “Barnes is the stereotypical family business,” said Major Mutti. “Folks that work here think of each other as a family, and we’re very good at this business.”

It’s a business that is one of the oldest flying units in the commonwealth, focused on maintaining well-trained units who are ready to mobilize at any time, but not alone. “What’s important about the Barnes family is that we do look out for each other. We are dedicated to our vision and our mission of being the number one fighter unit in the air force,” said Major Mutti.

From World War II, to the Cold War, and this week’s tragedy, Major Mutti says Barnes keeps that vision to continue its rich history.

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