Air Force: F-16 pilot killed in action

By CNJ staff & wire reports

The American pilot whose F-16 fighter jet crashed Nov. 27 in Iraq was listed as killed in action following DNA analysis of remains recovered at the crash site, the Air Force said.

Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, 34, was supporting troops fighting about 20 miles northwest of the Iraqi capital. Videotape footage obtained by Associated Press Television News after the crash appeared to show the wreckage of the F-16CG in a field and a tangled parachute nearby.

Gilbert, whose wife is a Clovis native, was flying a jet assigned to Cannon Air Force Base. Gilbert was deployed to the 332nd Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq in September and logged more than 130 combat hours, the Air Force said.

“While the loss of Troy has been devastating to us, we should not fail to pray for those who are still involved in the unsafe conditions in Iraq and in other parts of the world where the lives of our brave military are in danger,” read a statement issued by Gilbert’s family.

Ginger Gilbert’s parents are Jay and Judi Gurley of Clovis. Jay Gurley is communications director of ENMR-Plateau, former president of Clovis Community College, and president of the Board of Regents for Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. John Paradis declined to say whether Gilbert’s body had been recovered, saying only that some remains had been found.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

“He’s someone we all knew here,” Paradis said. “A great guy, great pilot.”

U.S. forces investigating the crash have said insurgents reached the site before American forces could. But officials said they did not believe Gilbert was shot down.

Troy and Ginger Gilbert were married at Cannon. His wife and five young children live in Glendale, Ariz., where Gilbert was permanently assigned at Luke Air Force Base.

Gilbert and his wife met at Angelo State University and were wed upon graduating from Texas Tech University in 1993, according to family members.

Once he returned from Iraq, the career officer of 13 years planned to attend the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Paradis said. Gilbert held a degree in international economics.

Posthumously, he has been awarded a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, according to information provided by his family in an obituary.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Gilbert family as they grieve the loss of a husband, father, son, son-in-law and Air Force warrior-patriot,” said Lt. Gen. Gary North, the top U.S. Air Force commander in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters.
Memorial services for Gilbert will be held in Arizona.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.