A Local Hero Remembered 20 Years Later

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Chris Belli and Master Sgt. Beth Holliker
  • 180th Fighter Wing
This is the time of year when we traditionally give thanks and celebrate our many blessings while preparing and planning holiday gatherings with family and friends. For the members of the 180th Fighter Wing and the family and friends of Lt. Michael Young, this is also a time of remembrance and reflection.

Young, 28, a pilot from Perrysburg, Ohio who returned from pilot training in April 1991, was killed during a routine training mission over northern Lake Huron coast, Michigan, Nov. 30, 1991. He was assigned to the 112th Fighter Squadron, part of what was once known as the 180th Tactical Fighter Group. He had been a member of the Ohio Air National Guard since 1982.

It was a typical early winter day in Northwest Ohio, cold and windy when Young stepped out for a regularly scheduled day of training in an A-7 Corsair II. During the routine mission, the aircraft became disabled, causing Young to eject. The aircraft impacted into a wooded area near Port Hope, Michigan, but Young, swept by 50 mph winds, landed in the frigid 38 degree waters of Lake Huron

Multiple rescue attempts including aircraft and boats failed as a result of the treacherous weather conditions. His body was never found and he was presumed drowned. Lt. Young was survived by his wife and daughter, who was just two months old at the time of the crash.

Twenty years later, Nov. 30, 2011, members of the 180th Fighter Wing, past and present along with friends and family of Lt. Young gathered at the 180th in Swanton, Ohio, to honor and remember this fallen hero. In attendance were Young's parents, sister, brother in-law, nephews and several friends.

The group spent the day sharing stories and memories of Young's life growing up and his love of flying. They were treated to a tour of the base before heading out to the flightline to watch the unit's F-16 pilots perform the same daily pre-flight procedures and rituals similar to those Young performed himself prior to taking to the skies for training missions. The mission on this day was not just for training, it was for Lt. Michael Young and his family.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Lt. Young's passing, Lt. Col. Tim Moses, 180th FW Operations Support Squadron Commander, carried with him an American flag and a United States Air Force flag and flew up the coast of Lake Huron and over the crash site, where a memorial in Lt. Young's name now stands. The Air Force flag was presented to the Young family in honor of their sacrifice all of those years ago.

The American flag will be presented to the members of Amvet Post 115 on behalf of the 180th FW for their unwavering support of the Young family and for keeping the memory of Lt. Young alive for the last 20 years. The Amvets maintain the modest memorial in Young's honor and conduct a small ceremony each Memorial Day, near Port Hope, MI., ensuring that he is a hero not to be remembered every 20 years, but every day, forever.

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