LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – For the first time since his tragic death, the family of fighter jet pilot Lt. Col Morris Fontenot spoke about the man who will always be in their hearts.
“The town of Longmeadow, the 104th Fighter Wing, the Air National Guard and the United States of America lost a true hero this week,” said Alex Haldopoulos, Commander of the 104th Operation Group at Barnes Air National Guard Base.
It started with a prayer. Against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the sky that he protected, draped a bold symbol of American freedom.
Those who knew him called him “Moose.” An 18-year veteran of the Air Force, he joined the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes this past winter and moved to Longmeadow with his wife Kara, and daughters Natalie and Nicole.
Kara Fontenot said, “The fact that you all took time to come here tonight just shows us that we picked the right community, and we plan to make Longmeadow our home.”
With great strength and grace, she spoke about man she loved. She said he died doing what he loved, and for the country he loved.
Saturday was Kara’s 40th birthday. She left home in the morning with her daughters. When she returned, she found that the airmen of the 104th had re-landscaped her entire yard.
She said, “Before my husband died he casually mentioned that he wanted to plant 40 rose bushes for my 40th birthday. These gentlemen planted 40 rose bushes.”
Drawing strength from the hundreds who gathered on the Longmeadow town green, Moose’s longtime friend Ben Gilluly remembered his fallen brother.
“One of the most respected fighter pilots in the United States of America. He built relationships. He was humble and approachable by everyone, and he was a fantastic American, and the world is a lesser place without him,” said Gilluly.
Lt. Col. Fontenot will be laid to rest next month at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.