Tech Graduate Crashes F-16 in Iraq - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/29/06

Tech Graduate Crashes F-16 in Iraq

Lt. Col. John Paradiss Lt. Col. John Paradiss
Major Troy Gilbert Major Troy Gilbert

The whereabouts of a Texas Tech graduate remain unknown after the F-16 he was piloting crashed in Iraq. Military officials say Major Troy Gilbert was firing on targets at a low altitude when his jet went down near Falluja in Iraq Monday. The jet was based out of Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico, which is about 100 miles from Lubbock. DNA samples taken from the scene are being tested.

The 34-year-old has been stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona since March 2004. That's where family and friends made statements today. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel shares the story.

Major Troy Gilbert is a well decorated soldier who was selected to become a Presidential Advance Agent. He would often travel to classified locations to meet Air Force One. But the one thing friends, family and colleagues tell NewsChannel 11 he is most proud of is his time as a father and a husband.

"Troy was first and foremost a wonderful husband and father." That was the first message family members wanted the public to know about their own personal hero, Major Troy L. Gilbert. 

Lt. Col. John Paradiss from Luke Air Force Base read a message from the family stating, "He was highly respected by and deeply loved by so many. At the time of the tragedy during combat operations, he was unselfishly protecting the lives of other American military members. We, his family, cherish the worldwide prayers and support during this extremely difficult time."

Family members say Troy is a man who always knew what he wanted. He wanted to be a pilot, he also wanted to travel and he wanted a family. Those dreams started coming true when Troy graduated from Texas Tech in 1993 with a degree in international economics. Soon after, he married his college sweetheart, Ginger, and had five children.

His passion as a pilot became airborne after officer training with the Air Force, which lead him to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where he was a pilot instructor and earned the highest ranking honor, the Executive Flying Officer.

"He is an outstanding officer, an outstanding pilot, and an outstanding friend to many people here at Luke. But most importantly, above all else, he treasures his family and is a man of strong faith and conviction," says Brig.Gen. Tom Jones, Commander of Luke's 56th Fighter Wing.

A local fund has been set up to benefit Gilbert's five children, two of which are twins, about nine months old. Donations are being accepted at any branch of Lubbock National Bank.

Texas Tech Graduate and F-16 Pilot Crashes In Iraq
We now know the name of the Texas Tech graduate and F-16 Pilot that crashed in Iraq. 34-year-old Major Troy Gilbert was flying near Falluja when his plane went down about 4:30 in the morning, Texas time, on Monday. NewsChannel 11's Julia Bruck tells us more about the life this Red Raider lead.

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