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McConnell Honors Fallen Shell 77 Aircrew
by USAF Staff Sgt. Jess Lockoski - June 12, 2013

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MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – More than 100 airmen and community members from McConnell Air Force Base rallied around a KC-135 Stratotanker static display, May 28, 2013, during a memorial service honoring three fallen aircrew members of Shell 77, who perished May 3 near Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan.

Photos of Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, Capt. Victoria A. Pinckery and Tech. Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III sit among a table of mementos at the Shell 77 Memorial Service at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., May 28, 2013. The airmen were deployed to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during the time their KC-135 Stratotanker tragically crashed May 3, 2013 in Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jess Lockoski)
Photos of Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, Capt. Victoria A. Pinckery and Tech. Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III sit among a table of mementos at the Shell 77 Memorial Service at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., May 28, 2013. The airmen were deployed to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during the time their KC-135 Stratotanker tragically crashed May 3, 2013 in Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jess Lockoski)

Those who knew Tech. Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III, Capt. Victoria A. Pinckery, and Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., spoke softly, reflectively and proudly of their wingmenship and experiences with them in and amongst a tight-knit tanker community.

The three airmen were deployed to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during the time their KC-135 Stratotanker tragically crashed.

The service began with a community procession to the static display along the base's Memorial Walk, where generations of fallen airmen are honored with memorial stones. Capt. Quentin Genke, chaplain, led the attendees with a prayer and speech.

“Whether you personally knew them or not, they are your sister and brothers in arms,” said Genke. “Every morning, we put on the same uniform, don the same apparel they donned, and fight the same fight they fought.

“The fallen crew is valued ... we will always remember,” he added.

The chaplain reminded airmen, as they continue their calling, not to forget the ultimate sacrifices made and to use that as a footstone to their devotion to military service.

“May the memory of Shell 77 propel us to a higher level of commitment and dedication,” Genke said.

Also during the service, McConnell Airmen, Capt. Julio Collazos, Capt. Roque Zarate and Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Haas, friends of the fallen aircrew, shared their thoughts on Voss, Pinckery and Mackey, respectively.

Both enlisting in the Air Force in 2001 as boom operators, Haas recalled his friend Mackey as one of the first people he had met at their technical training at Altus AFB, Okla., and described him as always willing and ready to help teach the younger students.

“He was definitely one of the guys you wouldn't forget if you met him one time,” said Haas.

“He gave his life for the defense of this country, and even though the operations we participated in are no longer in main stream news, we all never forgot what we do, and why we are doing it. Tre never forgot ... he knew he wrote a blank check, payable with his life for all of us and our families ... he served with honor and pride," said Haas.

“Tre has now ended his mission earlier than expected, and Tre, I truly hope that heaven is as beautiful as watching the sun rise as at 40,000 feet,” he added.

The memorial service concluded with 77 seconds of silence and the playing of "Taps."

More photos available in frame below

By USAF Staff Sgt. Jess Lockoski
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2013

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