Michigan National Guard plays critical role in multi-agency effort to secure F-16 crash site

Vehicles from the Michigan Air National Guard and the Michigan State Police form a mobile command post in the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Dec. 11, 2020. The response is part of a multi-agency effort to secure the site where an F-16C Fighting Falcon from the Wisconsin Air National Guard crashed on Dec. 8, 2020 (courtesy photo).

Michigan National Guard

Story by Capt. Andrew Layton

HIAWATHA NATIONAL FOREST, Mich. – On the evening of Dec. 8, 2020, an F-16C assigned to the 115th Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, crashed into a remote area of the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

As initial notifications of the accident were made, staff at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in Northern Michigan were dispatched almost immediately to secure the crash site and ensure public safety. Together with local first responders from Delta County as well as the Michigan State Police, a perimeter was immediately established around the accident site. Members of the Michigan National Guard’s 107th Engineer Battalion also reported from the Gladstone Armory to assist in ensuring the area remains safe.

“This a somber mission, and one that we hope we never have to perform,” said Lt. Col. Dustin Budd, Director of Operations for the Alpena CRTC, who led the team dispatched to the site. “Considering the circumstances, things went very smoothly establishing the initial support package.”

Budd points out that the Michigan State Police initially established on-scene command of the crash site.

“We cannot say enough about our fantastic partnership with the Michigan State Police, the local first responders from Delta county, and the Wisconsin Air National Guard during this process,” he said. “They have been continually supportive of the effort here.”

In addition to support on the ground, Michigan Air National Guard A-10C Thunderbolt II and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, were involved in overwatch operations during initial multi-agency search and rescue efforts to locate the F-16’s pilot. On December 10th, the 115th Wing announced that the pilot of the F-16 did not survive the crash.

Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, Assistant Adjutant General and commander of the Michigan Air National Guard offered his deepest condolences and support to the Wisconsin Air National Guard at this time.

“This is an incredibly tragic and painful time for the entire Air National Guard family, and our hearts are with every one of our fellow Airmen in Wisconsin who are grieving,” he said. “Going forward, our priority is ensuring the safety of the area around the crash site to minimize impact to the Upper Peninsula community while we do everything we can to support the Wisconsin Air National Guard during this time. We are committed to giving our best ensuring the steps forward for cleanup and investigation at the site are safe and expedient.”

Additional information about the accident will be released by the Wisconsin Air National Guard when available.

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