Dear Members of the S.C. Military Department Family-
As you may be aware, on Tuesday night during routine night flying operations, two of our F16s from the 169th Fighter Wing crashed over the skies in Jefferson County, Georgia. While these past 30+ hours have been difficult for our Swamp Fox family, there are always blessings in the direst situations. We are grateful that both pilots were able to eject safely and are home in good condition with their loved ones. The fact that no one was injured during this incident is a testament to the professionalism and expertise of these seasoned combat experienced pilots, and all of our pilots who conduct complex training every day. It has been over 30 years since the Fighter Wing has had an accident of this significance which demonstrates their personal commitment to excellence.
The outpouring of support and assistance from our community and military partners as we move ahead in recovery of the jets has been overwhelming. I visited the crash scene last night with 169th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Nick Gentile and his team, who have done a phenomenal job in partnering with first responders and agencies in Georgia. We could not have located these jets in the rugged and dense wooded areas without their support. A special thank you to Jim Anderson, Director of Emergency Management in Jefferson County and his team, Sheriff Gary Hutchins and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office, Georgia EMD, the Georgia Dept. of Public Safety and the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Air National Guard, S.C. Civil Air Patrol, Robins Air Force Base, Shaw Air Force Base, Beaufort Marine Corps Station, Mayor Larry Morgan and his team in Louisville, the Louisville Regional Airport, the Red Cross, and all who have been tremendous in their spirited commitment to assisting our S.C. National Guard family though this event. Also a special military thank you to SC Army aviation for Apache, Black Hawk and LUH support, along with the MPs and SFs for security assistance. We could not have come this far without these strong relationships.
Finally, I commend the leadership of the Swamp Fox organization and all of the Airmen and Soldiers, who rallied as a team. You represent the finest in the National Guard and I could not be more proud of your commitment to helping one another. The work continues and the hours still may be long. Please keep safety at the forefront. Every one of you in our ranks is important and vital to our Guard family. Remember to embrace your loved ones too, for we could not perform our mission without them. May God continue to bless our organization, our great state, and our nation. – Bob Livingston