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Updated: Air Force Identifies F-15C Pilot Killed in Wednesday Crash

Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., 104th Fighter Wing Photo

Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr., 104th Fighter Wing Photo

The U.S. Air Force has identified the pilot of the Boeing F-15C Eagle who died in a Wednesday crash in Virginia.

Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot, Jr. died following the Wednesday crashin the mountains outside of Deerfield, Va., according to the service.

Fontenot had joined the Massachusetts Air Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing in February after retiring from the U.S. Air Force. He was a combat veteran with several Middle East tours and had 17-years experience flying F-15s, according to a report from The Associated Press.

At the 104th, Fontenot served as the unit’s inspector general and was an instructor pilot. He was a 1996 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Searchers — who looked for Fontenot for two days — discovered the ejection seat was still with the fighter, Brig. Gen. Robert Brooks, commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, told reporters on Thursday but did not provide details, according to a report in the Associated Press.

“We just found evidence that the ejection seat was with the aircraft,” Brooks said.

He did not say if searchers had found Fontenot’s remains.

104th Air Wing F-15 Fighter at Barnes Air National Guard Base in 2009. US Air Force Photo

104th Air Wing F-15 Fighter at Barnes Air National Guard Base in 2009. US Air Force Photo

Fontenot on his way to Naval Air Station New Orleans, La. from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass. for an radar upgrade when he reported an in-flight emergency.

At 9:05 a.m. air traffic controllers had lost track of the aircraft.

“Investigators said the jet hit the ground at a high rate of speed, leaving a deep crater and a large debris field in a heavily wooded area next to a mountain in the George Washington National Forest,” according to the AP.

The Air Force has begun an investigation into the cause of the crash.