Friday, April 5, 2013
The Pentagon has identified the pilot killed Wednesday when his F-16 fighter jet crashed in Afghanistan as Capt. James Michael Steel, 29, of Tampa, Florida.
Air Force Central Command spokesperson Capt. Natassia Cherne told Stars and Stripes that Steel's plane was on its final approach to land at Bagram Airfield around 11 p.m. when he lost contact with his wingman and the control tower. Steel's F-16 then crashed 10 miles south of the runway.
He had been on a routine air support mission, according to Cherne. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Steel was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.
A Shaw Air Force Base news release states Steel graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2006. He was the chief of mobility for Shaw's 77th Fighter Squadron.
Col. Clay Hall, 20th Fighter Wing commander, said of Steel's death:
"Our condolences and prayers are with the family, friends and squadron members of Capt. Steel. This is a difficult time for Shaw AFB, but we are focused on taking care of the Steel family, our Airmen and continuing to execute the mission."