Fallen pilot's family thanks 104th, Longmeadow for support - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Fallen pilot's family thanks 104th, Longmeadow for support


Town residents, as well as others from Western Massachusetts, gathered on the town common Saturday evening.

They were there to honor Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr., a member of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base, who died on Wednesday when his F-15 jet crashed in rural Virginia.

"My husband died doing what he loved," said Fontenot's wife, Kara. "Serving his country, flying F-15s, and what he loved even more was being part of a band of brothers."

Fontenot, with her daughters Natalie and Nicole by her side, addressed hundreds that gathered to pay their respects for her husband, who died serving his country.

Since the initial news of the crash, the 104th Fighter Wing has said it wants to be there for the Fontenot family.

Kara said she experienced that firsthand on Saturday, which happened to be her birthday.

"Before my husband died, he had casually mentioned that he wanted to plant 40 rose bushes for my 40th birthday," said Fontenot. "These gentlemen planted 40 rose bushes from my husband."

Col. Alex Haldopoulos of the 104th told the crowd that delivering Fontenot the news that her husband had died was the hardest thing he has ever done in his life.

While only with the Guard since February of this year, Fontenot had an immediate impact on base.

"We were thrilled to have the opportunity to call "Moose" a Barnestormer," said Haldopoulos.  "He took a huge leap of faith in joining the Guard, with less than three years remaining before he qualified for a full retirement from the active side."

With her daughters having attended five different schools, Kara says that leap of faith was made so her family could finally settle down.

Having been in Western Massachusetts for less than a year, she said they do not plan on leaving any time soon.

"The fact that you all took time to come here tonight just shows us that we picked the right community, and we plan to make Longmeadow our home," said Fontenot.

During Saturday night's ceremony, Haldopoulos said Lt. Col. Fontenot will be buried early next month at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.

He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1996.

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