Memorial to pilots

Members of Vance Air Force Base honor the fallen at a static display, Nov 26, 2019, with flowers placed at the base in memory of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John "Matt" Cravin Kincade and 2nd Lt. Travis Wilkie, who died Nov. 21, 2019, in an aircraft mishap. 

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — More than 1,200 attended private memorial services for Lt. Col. John “Matt” Cravin Kincade and 2nd Lt. Travis Wilkie on base Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

Vance Air Force Base airmen, 19th and 22nd Air Force leadership, and local legislative and civic leadership came together to honor the lives of the two airmen killed in a training accident Nov. 21, 2019.

“Many people ask me if the wing is OK after all of this … the simple answer is no … we are not … we miss our friends and wingmen,” said Col. Corey Simmons, 71st Flying Training Wing commander, during the services, which were 11 a.m. and 2:05 p.m. in the largest aircraft hangar at Vance.

“But very soon, we will be … because we have to be. And tomorrow, Vance Air Force Base will continue training our next generation of aviators. Because that is what we are called to do,” said Simmons.

In his remarks regarding Wilkie, Simmons said, “Travis was the best of what we have to offer our nation. A man who loved his wife, his family, his Air Force Academy, his fellow wingman, his instructors, his Air Force, his country and his God.

“He wanted to be the best … so he put his heart and soul into being what few have the chance to do … become a United States Air Force pilot,” Simmons said.

During the second service later that afternoon, Simmons eulogized Kincade.

“Each of us in this hangar will undoubtedly leave with an imprint of what Cravin meant to each of us. For many it has been and will be extremely personal,” he said.

“For our Kittens (5th Flying Training Squadron members) and Shooters (25th Flying Training Squadron members) who flew with Cravin, that legacy will be of an extremely confident and credible aviator that everyone respected.

“For his family, Gina and the boys, Cravin will always be the husband and father who always put them first – even when the Navy, Air Force, active duty, Guard, and Reserve sometimes made it hard to do,” said Simmons.

Wilkie’s service ended with a Missing Man formation flown by four T-38 Talons piloted by members of the 25th FTS.

Kincade’s service ended with the formation flown by T-38 aircrew from the 5th FTS.

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