JSUPT Class 13-07, Vance remembers fallen grad

  • Published
  • By David Poe
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
A former Vance student pilot known for his small stature and immense heart is being remembered by Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 13-07 pilot graduates and the greater Vance community following a C-130J crash in Afghanistan, Oct. 2.

Co-pilot Capt. Jonathan "JJ" Golden was one of six Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing who died when his aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Jalalabad Airport in Nangarhar Province.

The prior-enlisted air crewman-turned-officer was a member of the 39th Airlift Squadron Trailblazers out of Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

Also lost were fellow Dyess Airmen Capt. Jordan Pierson, Staff Sgt. Ryan Hammond, Senior Airman Quinn Johnson-Harris, as well as Defenders Senior Airman Nathan Sartain and Airman 1st Class Kcey Ruiz from Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Five civilian contractors also died in the crash.

Following primary training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, Golden completed advanced (T-1) training with the 3rd Flying Training Squadron here in 2013.

Capt. Garrett Riley, the 3rd FTS O Flight assistant commander and a fellow JSUPT 13-07 graduate, said although Golden's off-site primary training brought him to Vance later than his peers, his classmates warmed up to him immediately due to his selfless demeanor.

Riley also said he admired Golden's dedication to the one thing that mattered more to him than getting his pilot wings - his family.

"When he wasn't in the flight room studying, JJ was at home being an amazing father and husband," he said. "He would honestly give you the shirt off of his back."

After Vance, JSUPT 13-07 graduate Capt. Ben Keisler said Golden "lived the class [13-07] motto 'Challenge Accepted,' and embodied perseverance.

"He not only possessed the heart of a dedicated father and selfless friend, but existed as a stalwart professional whose blood ran heavy with the love of flight," Keisler said. "Those who had the honor of knowing JJ will not forget his exceptional character. A good man has passed from this world, and he is missed."

Lt. Col. Scott Linck, the 71st Student Squadron commander, whose staff develops approximately 600 student pilots while they train for their Air Force Pilot ratings at Vance, said the character of committed pilots like Golden is the cornerstone of the mission here and their losses reverberate throughout the flight rooms in northwest Oklahoma.

"Pilot training forges lasting bonds that echo through our lives," said Linck. "The loss of one of our comrades, whether a recent graduate or a long-retired veteran, is equally devastating to those that remain. Our thoughts and prayers are with Captain Golden's friends and loved ones as they navigate this trying time.

"Although we mourn the loss of a fellow Airman, we take solace in knowing that his legacy will endure. Our community will hold his memory close as it shapes our lives and reminds us of the importance of service and dedication to not only the Air Force, but to family and friends alike," Linck said.