WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – For the first time since his tragic death, the family of fighter jet pilot Lt. Col Fontenot spoke about their loss.
A memorial service was held Saturday evening for Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot in Longmeadow, and hundreds of community members came to remember the man who protected their skies.
Fontenot was 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.
On Wednesday, he was on his way to New Orleans when he reported an in-flight emergency, lost contact, and crashed in the mountains of Deerfield, Virginia.
Kara spoke about the man she loved and that he died for his country and community with a purpose.
“My husband died doing what he loved,” she said. “Serving his country flying F15s, and what he loved even more was being a part of a band of brothers with his fellow fighter pilots. And these brothers cared for us like we are their family members.”
They even fulfilled a final wish of Lt. Col. Fontenot’s.
Saturday was also Kara’s 40th birthday. She left home in the morning with her daughters, and when she returned, she found that the airmen of the 104th had relandscaped her entire yard.
Before Lt. Col. Fontenot died, he casually mentioned to his team he wanted to plant 40 rose bushes for her 40th birthday.
Members of the 104th told 22News how valuable Fontenot was to their team.
Snip Hadlopoulos told 22News, “Right away he fit into our team and immediately began impressing a guarded group of proud men at the 104th. It didn’t take long for people to realize what a gem he was and he had an extremely bright future ahead of him.”
Fontenot was an 18-year veteran of the Air Force before he went to the Air National Guard. At Saturday’s service, everyone there shared a laugh when his move was compared to Lebron James going to Cleveland.
Many members of the 104th Fighter Wing told 22News that Lt. Col. Fontenot made their team stronger and made each teammate a better person.