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Tuolumne County Fighter Pilot Missing

Twain Harte native Lucas Gruenthe went missing on Jan. 28 while piloting an F-16 fighter jet over the Adriatic Sea.

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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy—

A memorial service was held Wednesday for Twain Harte native Lucas Gruenther, who’s F-16 crashed in the Adriatic Sea last week.

The Air Force confirmed last Thursday that they had found Gruenther’s body. U.S. and Italian forces helped in the search for Gruenther, who was on a training flight in an F-16 fighter jet when it crashed.

Gruenther’s last known location was over the Adriatic Sea, some 10-15 nautical miles east of Cervia.

Video of Gruenther’s service can be seen here-

Local News
01/31/13

Missing Tuolumne Co. Pilot Found Dead

gruenther

A photo from Gruenther’s Facebook page.

MANIAGO, Italy-

The Air Force confirmed Thursday morning they have found the body of a Tuolumne County pilot who went missing earlier this week.

Captain Lucas Gruenther was serving in Italy, and was on a training flight Monday over the Adriatic Sea when the military lost contact with him. Debris from the F-16 Gruenther was in was found Tuesday, but the family had remained optimistic that he would be found alive.

However, Thursday morning, the military confirmed his body was found, releasing this statement:

“It is with great sadness that we announce that the body Capt. Lucas Gruenther was found in the Adriatic Sea this afternoon. A compassionate husband, a loving son, and a devoted brother; Luc leaves behind a family who loves him dearly and a legacy of achievement. We will never fully recover from our loss, but take heart in the knowledge that during his all-too-short time in this world, he made a significant difference in the lives of all whom he met.

“We would like to thank the people around the world for your messages and your prayers. We especially want to extend our deepest gratitude to the many people who volunteered their time and resources to help bring Luc home.”

gruenther

A photo from Gruenther’s Facebook page.

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy (FOX40/CNN)—

More units are joining in on the search for a Tuolumne County fighter pilot that went missing while flying an F-16 Monday.

F-16 units from the 31st Fighter Wing will help the search for Twain Harte native Lucas Gruenther. Both U.S. and Italian units are helping in the search.

Controllers lost contact with the F-16 around 8 p.m. Monday (11 a.m. PST) while the jet was on a training flight, the U.S. Air Force reported.

The jet’s last known location was over the Adriatic Sea, some 10-15 nautical miles east of Cervia.

“The weather and size of the search area have limited our ability to provide assistance with F-16s up to this point; however, now that the ships and reconnaissance aircraft have refined the search area, we hope to help by putting more sensors and eyes out there,” said Brig. Gen Scott J. Zobrist, 31st Fighter Wing commander in a release.

Debris that officials believe to be the wreckage of the fighter jet was found on Tuesday.

Search teams have found no sign of the pilot, though they’re continuing the search, officials said.

 

CNN contributed to this report.

gruenther

A photo from Gruenther’s Facebook page.

FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA, Italy

Italian search teams have found debris thought to belong to a U.S. fighter jet that went missing, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The jet was piloted by Twain Harte native Lucas Gruenther.

Controllers lost contact with the F-16 around 8 p.m. Monday (2 p.m. ET) while the jet was on a training flight, the U.S. Air Force reported

The jet’s last known location was over the Adriatic Sea, some 10-15 nautical miles east of Cervia.

Search teams have found no sign of the pilot, though they’re continuing the search, officials said.

The jet was based at Aviano Air Base, a key NATO installation in northern Italy.

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