01/03/07 — Seymour Johnson AFB jets fly over Gerald Ford's funeral

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Seymour Johnson AFB jets fly over Gerald Ford's funeral

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 3, 2007 2:04 PM

Fourth Fighter Wing Commander Col. Steve Kwast will get the chance to lead from the air today, as he is expected to fly the first single-ship over former President Gerald Ford's funeral this afternoon in Grand Rapids, Mich.

F-15E Strike Eagles and KC-135 Stratotankers from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base were expected to take off shortly after lunch to arrive near Ford's presidential museum in time to honor the late commander in chief, officials said.

Once they arrive, the tribute begins.

First, 21 4th Fighter Wing jets will conduct the flyover with a combination of passes from South to North along the Grand River. Then, Kwast and 4th Operations Group Commander Col. Eric Nelson will lead five 4-ship configurations over the museum.

The final group of jets will execute the missing-man formation -- the third jet pulling away from the others to symbolize and honor the passing of America's 38th president.

Kwast said he and the other airmen involved in this "humbling mission" are proud to take their home city and county to the sky with them.

"As we fly the F-15E Strike Eagles over the presidential museum in (Ford's) honor, we'll carry the pride of Seymour Johnson, Wayne County and the state of North Carolina with us," he said. "The aircrew and maintainers of the 4th Fighter Wing and 916th Air Refueling Wing who represent "Team Seymour" are very proud to be a part of this memorial."