OTS, ROTC, USAFA Grads, Airman Killed in African U-28 Crash
Update: The military has said enemy action was not involved in the U-28 crash.
A U-28A — an AFSOC version of the Pilatus PC-12 — went down over the weekend during a mission from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (in the horn of Africa, for those unfamiliar). All four aircrew were killed. The least amount of deployments among the crew was 3 (in 5 years).
Of the three officers, one was from ROTC, one from OTS, and one was a 2009 USAFA graduate. That represents all 3 possible commissioning sources in the Air Force in one loss. While there are often good-natured rivalries among OTS, ROTC, and USAFA, risk and sacrifice know no bias.
Captain Ryan Hall…was a U-28A pilot on his seventh deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2004, receiving his commission through [ROTC] at The Citadel.
Captain Nicholas Whitlock…was also a U-28A pilot and was on his fifth deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2006, receiving his commission through [OTS].
Lieutenant Justin Wilkens…was a combat systems officer on his third deployment. He entered the Air Force in 2009, receiving his commission through the Air Force Academy.
Airman Julian Scholten…was a mission systems operator [who] enlisted in the Air Force in 2007 [and] was on his third deployment.
While an Air Force Special Operations Command U-28 isn’t normally the first choice of fighter pilot wannabes, it became a fairly common airframe in just the past few years — and not always voluntarily. However, as with all AFSOC aircraft and aircrew, the U-28A and their crews are among the hardest working in the Air Force.