Vance Air Force Base to hold memorials for airmen killed in T-38 crash
By JAMES NEAL | The Enid News & Eagle | Published: December 3, 2019
ENID, Okla. (Tribune News Service) — Vance Air Force Base has announced two on-base memorial services, scheduled for Thursday for two airmen killed in a Nov. 21 T-38 Talon crash at the base.
Lt. Col. John “Matt” Kincade, 47, an instructor pilot assigned to the 5th Flying Training Squadron, and 2nd Lt. Travis B. Wilkie, 23, a student pilot assigned to the 71st Student Squadron, were killed when their T-38 crashed during the landing phase of a formation training flight.
Kincade is survived by his wife and two sons, and Wilkie is survived by his wife, parents and sister.
The 71st Flying Training Wing will host separate memorial services for each airman, both in Hangar 199, the T-1 hangar on the south end of the flight line at Vance.
The memorial for Wilkie will be at 11 a.m., followed by a memorial for Kincaid at 2:05 p.m. The memorials, being on base, are not open to the general public, but are open to anyone with access to the base, according to Vance public affairs.
A funeral service for Kincade was scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, followed by burial at Gracelawn Cemetery in Edmond.
Kincade entered military service with the Navy in 1998, and after flight school he was assigned to fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet with the VFA-14 "Tophatters," including combat service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to his obituary. He later went on to fly the F-16 A/B as an adversary pilot at the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev.
After his service in the Navy, Kincade served with the 124th Fighter Squadron of the Iowa Air National Guard as an F-16C pilot, and flew missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He joined the 5th Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base as a T-38 instructor pilot in 2013, and was twice selected as the Reserve T-38 Instructor Pilot of the Year, according to his obituary.
Kincade was a commercial airline pilot with American Airlines since 2017, and had accumulated more than 3,200 hours in fighter aircraft, including more than 123 hours of combat time, according to his obituary.
Wilkie, a graduate of La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego, Calif., was a standout baseball player at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he graduated in 2018.
On his profile on the Air Force Falcons baseball team page, Wilkie said it was his love of both country and baseball that brought him to the academy.
“I came to the Academy to seek adventure, to challenge myself, and become the best person I can be," Wilkie wrote. "The opportunity to obtain an amazing education and serve my country, while also playing Div. I baseball is unmatched.”
During his time at the academy, Wilkie set several records, including a Falcon record for 10 sac bunts as a freshman, which also tied him for second all-time in single season sac bunts, and was an Academic All-Mountain West player in 2015 and 2016.
Also on his Falcons baseball profile, Wilkie said if he could meet any figure from history he "would like the chance to meet the Wright brothers because they sparked the industry of powered flight."
On the news of Wilkie's death, Falcons baseball head coach Mike Kazlausky said, "There are no words that can ease the pain of such a loss."
"Travis' energy, cheerfulness and genuineness made him the friend everyone loved, the teammate everyone leaned on and the man that everyone admired," said in a statement on the team website. "His irreplaceable character makes this tragedy even more painful for those who knew and loved Travis, and it will fuel all of us to continue to love and honor Travis for the rest of our lives. Words cannot adequately express what an amazing young man and teammate Travis was and what he meant to our baseball family. Our hearts are broken."
In a statement released on Nov. 21, U.S. Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said the Air Force Academy "family is grieving a deeply felt loss."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Travis' family, friends, and the entire Vance community during this unimaginably difficult time," Silveria wrote. "A cadet, a student and an athlete, Travis made a profound impact upon those he knew here at USAFA. Words cannot even begin to describe how greatly he will be missed by his Academy and Air Force family."
An Air Force investigation continues into the fatal Nov. 21 crash.