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Air Force names pilots involved in fatal training jet crash in Texas

A T-38 Talon participates in the 2004 Lackland Airfest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)
November 15, 2018

The Air Force has identified a pilot who was killed and another who was injured when a T-38C Talon crashed Tuesday evening at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

Capt. John Graziano, 28, an instructor pilot with the 87th Flying Training Squadron, was killed in the incident, according to a statement issued late Wednesday. Fellow instructor pilot Capt. Mark Palyok, also with the 87th FTS, was released Wednesday from Val Verde Regional Medical Center after being treated for his injuries.

The aircraft, which is used for training student pilots to fly fighter or bomber jets, crashed about 7:40 p.m. local time on the south Texas base just outside Del Rio, according to a statement posted Wednesday on Laughlin’s Facebook page.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

“Knowing how everyone is effected by this tragedy, my immediate concern is making sure that every member of our Laughlin family is okay,”  Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, said in the statement. “Together, we are Laughlin and now is the time that we stand together to take care of one another.”

The incident marks the second fatal crash of a T-38 at Laughlin in 12 months, coming almost one year after Air Force Capt. Paul Barbour was killed and Capt. Joshua Hammervold was injured when their jet experienced total hydraulic failure, according to an investigation into the wreck.

It was also the fifth crash of the training jet in the last 12 months. Those incidents happened at other locations and the pilots survived.

This week’s crash came just weeks after the Air Force removed three of the top commanders at Laughlin, citing concerns about dangerous and threatening behavior at the major pilot training installation, the service’s Air Education and Training Command announced Oct. 31.


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