Sunday, February 01, 2009

Captain Jeremy Fresques

I recently received an email from a friend ("Bill S.") commenting on a 2005 event where-in a 'local resident' (living near an U.S. Air Force base) complained about a fly-over at low altitude near a residential community.

The entire story is told here.

The original complaint was:
"Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated."
Cranky? Yes, but understandable.

The response (from a U.S. Air Force member) was:
On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16's from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt Jeremy Fresques.

Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.

At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.

A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom.

We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.
The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for the morning air show?"

The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
CO 63rd Fighter Squadron
Luke AFB

It's not uncommon for those of us who are not members of the military to misunderstand the arcane things they do. In this case, the original complaint performed a service to the community, which was not expected. (The writer of the complaint also provided an apology, which was perhaps not entirely necessary .. but still, I'm sure, gladly received by both the Military unit which performed the fly-bay, and Captain Fresques' family.)

Although this story is somewhat dated, still it serves the purpose of explaining that, while some of the things which the Military does are often incomprehensible, our military continues a centuries-long tradition of respect to its fallen members.

Perhaps we too need to make an effort to honor their sacrifices.

My personal thanks to Bill S., one of whose sons served two tours in "The Sandbox" as a combat medic, bringing his family much honor. Bill sent the basic information in an email, and I'm grateful for his intention to high-light the difficulty of communication between the Military and we Civilians.

And of course a special appreciation to the memory and family of Captain Jeremy Fresques.

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