Sheppard Honors Italian Airman Killed in 2001 Crash

- Sheppard Air Force Base is honoring the legacy of Lieutenant Marco Tosi. On August 24th, 2001 Tosi was killed about 8 miles southwest of Thalia in Foard County.

He attended the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard and was flying solo as lead of a fighting wing formation, at about 400 miles per hour. It was then that Tosi's  wing man's aircraft collided with his jet as Tosi did a maneuver. It's believed he was killed instantly on impact.  
Wednesday morning, friends, colleagues and fellow airmen gathered to remember Tosi as a road on base was dedicated in his honor. Having the road named after him, something air force officials say is very rare, especially for an international officer. But they say it's the perfect way to keep Tosi's memory alive.

“He was dreaming to be a pilot. He was a young man, young aviator, chasing a dream,” says Lieutenant Colonel Michele Minonne.

Friends remember Tosi as a great student who loved serving.

“I was impressed as well educated he was this guy and well prepared he was,” said Minonne.

Tosi was ranked in the top ten of over one thousand five hundred candidates. That ranking excelled him to be accepted in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard, a very prestigious spot to get.

“For the Italian Air Force and the NATO community what our people is doing in Sheppard is tremendously important. Only training together and getting to know each other, building on the trust of each other we will allow us to face the issues that are evident around the world,” said Major General Giovanni Fantuzzi.

“I met him in the ENJJPT hallway he was stepping to flight and I told him, you are so educated, so brilliant guy, he said hey sir see you later and then I said hey boy see you later, but we never see each other again,” said Minonne.

But Lieutenant Minonne says that was not the last time Tosi was with him, as one year later Minonne survived a crash similar to the one that took Tosi's life.

“God protect me and I’m pretty sure that Marco protect me so he was my guardian angel,” said Minonne.

An angel he says now officially has his wings. "Marco right now is flying as we is wing and is protecting us in the Sheppard skies," Minonne said.

The ceremony was filmed by Sheppard officials and the video will be sent to Tosi's family along with his wings.

Air Force officials say they hope Tosi's drive serves not only as a memorial to Marco but also as a reminder to students of how important safety is in flight training.

The Air Force investigation later blamed the crash partly on the pilots losing sight of each other in the sun. The instructor pilot and student pilot in the other T-38 just barely managed to eject, and they survived.

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