Capt. Michael L. Chinburg, the Hill Air Force Base pilot who died when his F-16 crashed in northern Saudi Arabia Tuesday, is remembered by his commanding officer as one of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing's finest pilots.
Col. Michael Navarro, speaking with reporters Saturday from the Middle East via telephone hookup, added, "We're all deeply saddened by the death of Captain Chinburg."The 26-year-old resident of South Ogden was stationed at Hill but listed Durham, N.H., as his home town. He and his wife, April, were married in September. They were together only a short time before he left for Operation Desert Shield.
Navarro said he will be sorely missed by the 388th.
"Obviously, any time that you have a tragic loss takes the wind out of your sails," he said. "He paid the ultimate price."
However, he added, that is the nature of "the business we're in, a high-risk business. We all realized that right off."
Navarro has been in contact with Chinburg's family, offering condolences. "Yes, the entire wing is very saddened about Mike Chinburg's accident," he said.
The pilots and crews will have to "put that behind us, focus on the future - but we'll always retain in our hearts the memories of our friends."