Aaron Malone 2010-07-28
Michael H. Freyholtz
Jeffrey A. Hill
Thomas E. Cicardo

4 killed in plane crash at Alaska military base

7/29/2010, By RACHEL D'ORO, Associated Press Writer

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AP) - Four airmen were killed when a cargo plane crashed during a training run at an Alaska Air Force base, sending a fireball hundreds of feet into the air, military authorities and witnesses said.

Three of the men were in the Alaska Air National Guard and the fourth was on active duty at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Air Force Col. John McMullen said Thursday. Their names have not been released pending notification of relatives.

"We lost four members of our Arctic Warrior family and it's a loss felt across our entire joint installation," McMullen said in a statement, referring to Elmendorf and its adjacent Army base, Fort Richardson.

The C-17 was from the 3rd Wing, based at Elmendorf near downtown Anchorage. The crash happened about 6:14 p.m. Wednesday during a training demonstration for an upcoming weekend air show, Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins said.

Anchorage Fire Dept. Captain Bryan Grella said his crew was just finishing dinner at about 6:30 p.m. at the downtown fire station when something caught his eye.

"It was a big, gray plume of smoke, and I saw a fireball go up in it," he said. The fireball extended about 750 feet in the air, he estimated.

The crash is the second in Anchorage this summer. In June, a child was killed and four others burned when a small plane crashed after taking off from the city'ssmall-airplane airport downtown.

Days after the June plane crash, a small plane landed on a busy highway in Anchorage. There were no injuries.

Gov. Sean Parnell and Sen. Mark Begich issued statements late Wednesday expressing sadness over the crash and sending well-wishes to members of the military.

"Alaskans are very connected to the military, and our thoughts and prayers are with Alaska's Air Force family," Parnell said.

Biographies: Crewmen killed in C-17 crash

Published: July 30th, 2010

Military authorities on Friday released the identities, with brief biographies, of the four airmen who died Wednesday when a C-17 cargo jet crashed on Elmendorf Air Force Base. The men - three of them members of the Alaska Air National Guard, and one of them assigned to an Elmendorf squadron - had years of flying and military experience behind them, including service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here are the bios as released by the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs:


The 249th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard mourns the loss of one of the Air Force's premier C-17 Pilots, Major Aaron "Zippy" Malone.

Major Malone served his country with distinction for more than 12 years in the Air National Guard. He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant from the Academy of Military Science in April 1998 and graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base in August 1999 with his Air Force pilot wings.

He was initially assigned to the Iowa Air National Guard, but later transferred to the 186th Fighter Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, where he flew the F-16 "Fighting Falcon". During his tenure with the Montana Air National Guard, he flew air sovereignty missions in the 9/11 aftermath for Operation NOBLE EAGLE and deployed to the Korean Peninsula.

With Alaska being his home, Major Malone transferred into the Alaska Air National Guard in 2008, when they started to fly the C-17 "Globemaster III" aircraft. Major Malone took an extended military leave of absence from his civilian employer, Alaska Airlines, to help stand-up the new 249th Airlift Squadron. Major Malone was a highly gifted pilot and rapidly upgraded to Instructor Pilot in the C-17.

Major Malone was a Senior Pilot with more than 2100 military flying hours in the T-37, T-38, F-16 and C-17 aircraft. He routinely flew combat missions in support of Operations ENDURING FREDOOM and IRAQI FREDOOM in the C-17 aircraft.

Major Malone's home town of record is Anchorage, Alaska.


The 249th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard mourns the passing of one the Air Force's premier C-17 Pilots, Major Michael H. Freyholtz.

Major Freyholtz joined the United States Air Force in May of 1998 and received his officer commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp program. He attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force, where he received his Air Force pilot wings in May of 2000.

Major Freyholtz was selected to fly the C-17 "Globemaster III" out of pilot training and attended initial C-17 qualification training at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. While on active duty, he was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base and McChord Air Force Base as a C-17 Aircraft Commander, Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner.

Major Freyholtz left active duty to move to Alaska and join the Alaska Air National Guard in May of 2007. He was the first outside pilot hired for the new 249th Airlift Squadron and was highly instrumental in its stand up. Initially, he served in a Drill Status Guardsmen capacity and worked for Boeing as a full-time C-17 simulator instructor. Later, he became a full-time Technician in the 249th Airlift Squadron and led its standardization/evaluation section. He was a very highly regarded C-17 Pilot and the unit's first C-17 Flight Examiner Pilot and Air Show Demonstration Pilot. Most recently, he accompanied the United States Air Force Thunderbirds throughout the Pacific and demonstrated the capabilities of the C-17 to thousands of air show spectators.

Major Freyholtz accumulated more than 3500 military flying hours in the T-37, T-1 and C-17 aircraft. He flew 608 combat hours in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM for which he received the Air Medal.

Major Freyholtz home town of record is Hines, Minnesota.


The 517th Airlift Squadron mourns the passing of an outstanding professional Airman, Captain Jeffrey A. Hill.

Captain Jeffrey Hill was a C-17A Instructor Pilot and Operations Flight Commander, 517th Airlift Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Jeff began his military career in 1998 as an enlisted aircraft maintainer in the 12th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB. He was a phenomenal Airman and he loved being an Airman in Alaska's 3rd Wing.

After earning his commission in December 2002, he attended pilot training at Columbus AFB, MS. A gifted aviator, he remained in Mississippi as a T-1 instructor pilot to train the next generation of Air Force pilots.

In 2007, Jeff's dream became reality and he was assigned to stand up the new C-17A squadron in Alaska. Jeff was custom made for the challenging environment. He absolutely loved the outdoors. He was always traveling off-road, hunting and fishing, camping and hiking. His assignment to the 517th was the kind of challenge he thrived on.

As a new C-17A pilot, with T-1 instructor experience, he accelerated through challenging training programs and leadership roles to ultimately become the Operations Flight Commander and instructor in the tactical airlift mission. He was an amazing flight commander who took on additional squadron leadership roles.

He reinvigorated the booster club and motivated young airmen to get and stay fit. He spent countless time, mentoring younger Airman to give back what the 12th leadership had given him. Jeff's trademark was a positive attitude. His happiness and smile were infectious. Each problem was fun, each discussion was full of humor and walking away without gut laugh was rare.

His perfectly cheerful demeanor was essential to his new squadron. His laugh and sense of humor is missed at home and work. Those in our small, yet global Air Force are lost with words for the void created at his loss. We loved Jeff and his character and happy example will be remembered forever.


The 249th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard mourns the passing of one the Air Force's premier Loadmasters, Senior Master Sergeant Thomas E. Cicardo.

Senior Master Sergeant served his country with high distinction for more than 28 years in the Armed Forces of the United States. Prior to joining the Alaska Air National Guard, Senior Master Sergeant served in the US Marine Corp, US Army, and the Air Force Reserve. He joined the Alaska Air National Guard in September of 1997, where his wide ranging military background made him an invaluable asset.

He spent his first eleven years in the Alaska Air National Guard in the 210th and 211th Rescue Squadrons, where he flew in an HC-130 aircraft. During his tenure in rescue, he partcipated in 58 Search and Rescue missions in the State of Alaska, in which he was credited with saving 66 lives and assisting 13 others to safety. He deployed multiple times in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, flying combat search and rescue missions in Afghanistan and personnel recovery missions in the Horn of Africa.

In 2008, Senior Master Sergeant Cicardo was handpicked to be part of the C-17 initial cadre to stand-up the 249th Airlift Squadron. Senior Master Sergeant Cicardo checked out in the C-17 "Globemaster III" aircraft and quickly upgraded to Instructor and Flight Examiner Loadmaster. He helped build the training and standardization/evaluation functions in the squadron. His efforts were instrumental in the squadron receiving an "Outstanding" rating during a recent Pacific Air Force's Standardization and Evaluation inspection, where was recognized as an "Outstanding Performer."

Over the course of his military career, Senior Master Sergeant Cicardo accumulated 5400 flying hours in the C-141, C-130, HC-130 and C-17 aircraft and visited countless countries. He was a highly decorated combat veteran receiving more than 30 awards and decorations, to include the Afghanistan Campaign medal, the Air Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.