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.


  • 4 AF brothers die, one being a Citadel brother of mine, and your main comment is about the airplane not being a first choice of fighter pilots? Lord Jesus heavenly Father please be with the family. All things were created by you and for you since the beginning of time, please use this horrific accident to your Glory. We know you are sovereign.

  • @BO

    your main comment is about the airplane not being a first choice of fighter pilots

    No, it wasn’t, but I’m sorry you perceived it that way.

  • God bless them and there families…

  • It’s hard for me to understand how anyone can even fly a plane after such an an accident and then rationalize it by saying it’s the will of God. What glory will God get out of our dead Airmen? That’s why religion and state should be unmistakenly separate.

  • Please leave God out of this. He is with individuals not football teams, countries, services, or politicians. It is up to each persons heart. They know what he wills.
    End of story.

  • not that it matters, I am a Citadel alumni. I appreciate Ryan’s Summeral Guard’s pride.