Fallen pilot honored with “Hero’s Welcome” upon returning to Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis.– Only silence could be heard as members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard lined the road and saluted Major Durwood “Hawk” Jones as he departed the 115th Fighter Wing for the last time Saturday morning.

The pilot’s remains were transferred back to Wisconsin from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Most of the transfer and funeral service were kept private, but people lined the procession route to the funeral home in hopes of showing their own sign of respect.

“Grief and sadness, but also pride in the amount of support that they have, the comradery that they have,” Jerry Thornsen said.

Thornsen brought his grandkids to watch on today. His son and their father also serves in the 115th Fighter Wing.

“I know how close their unit is, how much love and family they have, the sacrifices they make,” Thornsen said.

All thoughts were with Jones’ family, a wife and two children, he leaves behind.

“We have a fallen fighter pilot and I think it was great to show support for him and his family,” Charles Latimer said.

Latimer said he felt it was important to show Jones’ family that he was hero to people who never got to know him.

“I always dreamed about being a fighter pilot,” Latimer said. “It’s good to see people are having a good turnout to support someone that is defending our country and I just want to be a part of that.”

Most of all, it was their attempt to show their gratitude for the men and women who give all.

“We’re fortunate to have people, that knowing the dangers, still want to serve their country,” Thornsen said. “Very appreciative of that.”

Jones was killed when his F-16 jet crashed during a training exercise in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in December.

The United States Air Force is on phase two of a three phase investigation. Investigators are working to figure out what happened on the jet before it crashed. This typically takes 30 days.

A memorial service is expected to be scheduled at a later date.