Washington Air National Guard holds private remembrance of KC-135 crash - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington Air National Guard holds private remembrance of KC-135 crash

FAIRCHILD AFB, Wash. - The 141st Air Refueling Wing will hold a 10 year remembrance ceremony Tuesday, marking the anniversary of the KC-135 crash in Geilenkirchen AB, Germany on January 13, 1999. "We will honor our fellow Guardsmen and their families today and celebrate their lives and their legacy," said Col Greg Bulkley commander of the 141ARW. All four crew members perished in the crash, Maj. David Fite, Capt Kenneth Thiele, Maj Matt Laiho and TSgt Rich Visintainer. 

Families, friends, fellow Guardsmen and retirees will lower flags and lay a wreath at the Air National Guard memorial at Fairchild AFB as part of a private memorial ceremony.

Ten years ago, the Spokane community responded with an outpouring of support to the unit and to the families of the crew.  Thousands attended a public memorial held at what was then known as the Spokane Opera House.  "I have seen so much support and received so much good will from everyone since day one," said Mrs Val Laiho.  Laiho is currently a teacher in the Mead School district.  

Other family members have moved from the area and will return to Spokane for this remembrance ceremony.  Michelle Thiele, pregnant at the time of the crash, will bring her 9-year-old son to take part in a memorial for his father, whom he never met. 

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