By Paula Vargas
DENVER — An Air Force Academy graduate has been identified as the pilot who died when an Air Force F-16 crashed in eastern Afghanistan April 3.
The Department of Defense announced Friday, 29-year-old Capt. James Michael Steel was flying the aircraft back to base from a mission when the aircraft crashed near Bagram Airfield.
Capt. Steel, a 2006 Air Force Academy graduate, was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina soon after completing his pilot training in June 2010.
“Our condolences and prayers are with the family, friends and squadron members of Capt. Steel,” said Col. Clay Hall, 20th Fighter Wing commander.
“This is a difficult time for Shaw AFB, but we are focused on taking care of the Steel family, our Airmen and continuing to execute the mission.”
Authorities continue to investigate the cause of the accident.