Local News

Air Force unit returns from Afghanistan, minus two pilots

Posted September 9, 2009

— Two months after two of their pilots were killed in plane crash in Afghanistan, airmen from the 336th Fighter Squadron returned this week from a four-month deployment.

About 150 airmen, including members of the 4th Maintenance Group, got a rousing welcome from family and friends Wednesday evening. Another 350 returned home late Tuesday.

Seymour Johnson airmen homecoming Crowds welcome airmen back from Afghanistan

On July 17, an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet crashed in Ghazni Province in Afghanistan, killing Capt. Mark McDowell, 26, of Colorado Springs, and Capt. Thomas Gramith, 27, of Eagan, Minn.

"It was a bad time. I don't know what to say really,” Air Force Sgt. Joseph Cordero said.

McDowell was a Charlotte native whose grandfather lives in Sanford.

The cause of the crash hasn't been released, but military officials have said it was from non-hostile action.

"We had to have a lot of morale boosters before we left because a lot of the guys were pretty down about it," Air Force Sgt. Matthew Anderson said. "Right now, we're just glad to be home to see our families."

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  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Sep 10, 2009

    Fix the headline... it's a little sarcastic and a bit tasteless.

  • teach4ever67 Sep 9, 2009

    Unstable - AWESOME headline....

    Welcome back pilots, crews, and support you make all of us SO proud of you.

    I cannot begin to imagine how difficult the journey home was after having lost two from your "family."

  • familyfour Sep 9, 2009

    Welcome home, guys!

  • GWALLY Sep 9, 2009

    Welcome home guys!! God bless America!!

  • Faceman Sep 9, 2009

    WOOHOO!!! Welcome Back pilots!!!

  • living the dream Sep 9, 2009

    a5thtop. How about this.......
    Air Force unit returns from tour in Afghanistan, minus two fallen heros.

  • a5thtop Sep 9, 2009

    How about coming up with a better headline? Just sounds cold and disrespectful.