Friend remembers airman killed during Thursday’s Vance training mission

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EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) - It’s been just 2 days since Vance Air Force Base released the identities of the two airmen killed in Thursday’s tragic accident.

“It’s inherent in serving in the military. You know that these tragedies can happen,” said Adam Pugh, Lt. Col. Kincade’s friend and neighbor.

Pugh had known Lt. Col. John “Matt” Kincade for the last 5 years. Kincade, along with 2nd Lt. Travis B. Wilkie, tragically lost their lives during a flight training mission at Vance Air Force Base.

Kincade was a 47-year-old instructor pilot assigned to the 5th Flying Training Squadron.

Pugh told News 4 Kincade flew for both the Navy and the Air Force during his military career.

“Matt was an instructor pilot, so he loved to fly and loved to share his passion with others,” Pugh said. “There are thousands of young aviators right now that either learned how to fly from Matt or they flew with Matt and they’re stationed all over the world right now.” 05:16

Pugh said he connected with Kincade in more ways than one, both as a father and also as a military member.

“First and foremost, he loved his family. Obviously, when men and women raise their hand and take an oath, it’s also their family’s,” Pugh said.

Kincade leaves behind a wife and two sons. One of them who is also planning to become an aviator.

“He was so proud of his two sons,” Push said. “If you were to look at his social media or just bump into Matt in the neighborhood, that was the first thing he’d talk about and it would always be the first thing I knew to ask him about was, ‘Hey, how are the kids doing?’ Or ‘What are your sons up to?’ And so, he was a family guy, first and foremost.”

Wilkie was the other airman inside that T-38 Talon that crashed on Thursday morning. The 23-year-old student pilot was assigned to the 71st Student Squadron. He was a husband and also a recent Air Force Academy graduate.

The Academy released a statement saying,

“The Academy family is grieving a deeply felt loss today. We are incredibly saddened to hear of the tragic news out of Vance Air Force Base, where two Airmen were killed in a T-38 crash yesterday morning, including 2018 graduate 2nd Lt Travis Wilkie. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Travis' family, friends, and the entire Vance community during this unimaginably difficult time. A cadet, a student, and an athlete, Travis made a profound impact upon those he knew here at USAFA. Words cannot even begin to describe how greatly he will be missed by his Academy and Air Force family.”

And lastly, Pugh passed along a message from Kincade’s family.

“He wouldn’t want this tragedy to detour anybody from chasing their dreams of flying for the military, or flying commercially,” Pugh said.

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