WI Air National Guard IDs Pilot who Died in Crash of F-16

By Faye Higbee

Delta County, Michigan – On December 8, an F-16 aircraft crashed on Michigan’s upper penninsula, deep in the Hiawatha National Forest. The pilot was Captain Durwood “Hawk” Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was a member of the 115th Fighter Wing of the WI Air National Guard. The crash is under investigation.

Today the 115th Fighter Wing identified Capt. Durwood “Hawk” Jones, 37, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the pilot who lost his life in an F-16 crash in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Dec. 8.

Capt. Jones joined the Air National Guard in 2011 and graduated from F-16 basic qualification training in 2015. He is a decorated combat veteran, deploying as a part of a United States Pacific Command Theater Support Package to Japan in 2015 and to Korea in 2017. He deployed again in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to Afghanistan in 2019.

Capt. Jones has been awarded two Air Medal’s with combat “C” devices, which are awarded to individuals who have been personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action.

115th Fighter Wing, Facebook post.

Captain Jones is survived by his wife and two children.

Captain Jones with his wife and two sons. 115th Fighter Wing photo via Facebook

The aircraft was assigned to Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison, WI. The F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed on Tuesday at around 8 p.m., approximately 250 miles northeast of the base, deep in the Hiawatha National Forest. The search was in difficult terrain, but as they pressed to find the wreckage, they ultimately came upon the body of the pilot.

The 115th Fighter Wing talked about the search:

The 115th Fighter Wing participated in a coordinated search effort with local emergency responders, the U.S. Coast Guard and other government agencies overnight. Search and rescue efforts on the ground, in the air, and in the water continue.

The crash site, located in Delta County, Michigan was initially secured by local emergency responders, but military personnel and safety and security personnel from the 115th Fighter Wing are now on site. Additional personnel will be sent later today to help facilitate the safety and security of the crash site.

“We are a close knit family and when an incident like this occurs, every member in our organization feels it.” said Col. Bart Van Roo, 115th Fighter Wing commander.

115th Fighter Wing prior to the discovery of the pilot

The search drew searchers and planes from all over the region. The pilot’s flight was described as a “routine training mission.” According to officials, the WI Air National Guard often trains from Madison, Wisconsin through the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. Captain Jones was described as an experienced combat pilot.

A drone operator remarked on the post that the area is remote:

This area is heavily wooded/lakes and rivers everywhere. Most access is via small forest trails and snow mobile trails.” 

Head in the Clouds photography

R.I.P., Captain Jones.


Featured photo of Captain “Hawk” Jones via 115th Fighter Wing on Facebook

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