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Fallen Airmen honored

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
Four Airmen including two Beale Airmen whose MC-12 Liberty aircraft crashed and claimed their lives near Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, April 27 were honored during a memorial service at Beale Air Force Base Calif., May 6. Hundreds of service members, civilians, family and friends gathered to remember and honor their lives.

Capt. Reid K. Nishizuka, 30, of Kailua, Hawaii, was an MC-12W pilot assigned to the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale. Staff Sgt. Richard A. Dickson, 24, of Rancho Cordova Calif., was a tactical systems operator assigned to the 306th Intelligence Squadron at Beale. Both were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During the memorial service fellow service members read aloud letters describing the heroism the fallen Airmen portrayed throughout their careers.

In a letter from a former colleague the following was written regarding Nishizuka:

"It was not a coincidence that Reid was flying an MC-12; to those of us who go out on the ground, we know that the MC-12 crews are our guardian angels helping us find our way in the dark. Reid lived in a way that showed all how life should be lived. He had a certainty about his purpose coupled with a sense of kindness and compassion. He was the embodiment of balance between a protector and gentle soul."

Nishizuka joined the Air Force in 2005 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He deployed three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan piloting the EC-130 aircraft. Reid's deployment with the MC-12W was his fifth overall. His experience included 2,434 flying hours encompassing more than 200 combat missions.

His decorations include 10 Air Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals and two Air Force Achievement Medals. During the memorial service, Reid's father was presented the Bronze Star for Reid's most recent actions in Afghanistan.

Friends of Staff Sgt. Dickson also enlightened the audience about what kind of friend, father, mentor, and professional he was.

"In 2009 I went on my first deployment to Iraq and I got to fly with Richie a number of times," said Staff Sgt. Brian. "As well as being a great friend I got to see first-hand that Richie was also an excellent operator."

Dickson joined the Air Force in June 2006. He was an experienced crewmember, logging 891 combat hours aboard the MC-12W and 1,458 total hours aboard numerous aircraft. His decorations include seven Air Medals and an Air Force Achievement Medal. His wife was presented a Bronze Star during the memorial service for his most recent actions in Afghanistan.

"There are five simple words that fill me with both honor and sorrow and those words are, 'in service to his country,'" said Maj. Gen. Robert Otto, commander, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency. "They are chilling words because they signal that someone has paid the ultimate price to this great nation. It is never taken lightly, but each member who takes an oath and puts on a uniform does so knowing that they may be called to give their life for their country."

Condolences and respect were also paid to the two other Airmen who lost their lives in the incident:

Capt. Brandon L. Cyr, 28, was assigned to the 906th Air Refueling Squadron, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin, 30, of Morehead, Ky., was assigned to the 552nd Operations Support Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

Both Cyr and Fannin were also posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.

"Nishi, Richie, Brandon and Daniel had a hunger to fly and serve, which they did," Otto said. "They embraced and displayed uncommon courage performing dangerous work. So our promise, our vow, is to ensure that their loss is not forgotten."