LONGMEADOW (CBS) – The widow of a National Guard pilot killed in crash Wednesday says he died doing what he loved.

Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr. was flying an F-15C jet from Westfield to New Orleans for a radar update when he crashed in western Virginia.

“My husband died doing what he loved serving his country flying F-15s. What he loved even more was being part of a band of brothers,” said his widow, Kara Fontenot.

Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr. (Photo courtesy:  Barnes Air National Guard Base)

Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr. (Photo courtesy: Barnes Air National Guard Base)

She said at a memorial gathering Saturday night at the Longmeadow Town Green that she was overwhelmed by the hundreds of friends and neighbors who came to pay their respects to her husband.

Fontenot said members of his Massachusetts 104th Fighter Wing unit planted 40 rose bushes in her yard to mark her birthday on Saturday.

She said her husband had promised to plant the bushes, and his fellow airmen landscaped their yard to carry out his promise.

Lt. Col. Fontenot, or Moose as he was known, was a full-time member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

The Guard said Fontenot reported an in-flight emergency before the aircraft went down. They have not specified what that emergency was.

There were no munitions on board, but people miles away reported feeling the crash.

Fontenot was a decorated combat veteran with 17 years of experience. He joined the 104th Fighter Wing earlier this year.

Fontenot’s wife said he transferred from active duty to the Guard to give his two daughters the opportunity to stay in one school instead of constantly moving.

She said that by looking at the dozens of people who attended the tribute to her husband it was the right decision.

“The fact that you all took time to come here tonight just shows us that we picked the right community and we plan to make Longmeadow our home,” she said.


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