Air Force Response to Complaint of Jet Noise at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

A letter to the editor of a local newspaper near Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.  It complains about jet noise from a group of F-16s.  It asks “Whom do we thank for the morning air show?”  An Air Force officer wrote a response that said you could thank the widow and parents of an airman who was killed and who was being honored by the formation of jets.

The Truth:

This exchange of letters to the editor was published in the Arizona Republic newspaper in June, 2005.

Luke Air Force Base is located west of Phoenix near Glendale, Arizona.

The original complaint letter was published in the newspaper on June 23 and was written by Tom MacRae.

The response that is included in the eRumor was penned by Lt. Col. Scott Pleus, the commanding officer of the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke, and published on June 28.  In it, he explained that the flyby was in honor of a fallen airman, Captain Jeremy Fresques, who died in Iraq.

McRae wrote a follow-up letter to the newspaper that was published on July 9 in which he apologized for his original complaint:

I read with increasing embarrassment and humility the response to my
unfortunate letter to The Republic concerning an Air Force flyby (“A
wake-up call from Luke’s jets,” Letters, June 23).

I had no idea of the significance of the flyby, and would never have
insulted such a fine and respectful display had I known.

I have received many calls from the fine airmen who are serving or have
served at Luke, and I have attempted to explain my side and apologized
for any discomfort my letter has caused.

This was simply an uninformed citizen complaining about noise.

I have been made aware in both written and verbal communications of the
four-ship flyby, and my heart goes out to each and every lost serviceman
and woman in this war in which we are engaged.

I have been called un-American by an unknown caller and I feel that I
must address that. I served in the U.S. Navy and am a Vietnam veteran. I
love my country and respect the jobs that the service organizations are

Please accept my heartfelt apologies.

Tom MacRae, Peoria

Captain Fresques died on May 30, 2005.  He was one of four American airmen who were killed in the crash of an Iraqi air force Comp Air 7SL during a training mission in Iraq.  The Iraqi pilot was also killed in the crash. Fresques was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron in Florida although he had at one time been chief of communications and information for the 56th Communications Squadron at Luke Air Force Base.


A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Subject: Appropriate reply by one of our Air Force Brethren Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes, forgetting that it was there long before they were. A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back. Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall. When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, I hope it stung quite a bit. The complaint: “Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated.” The response: Regarding “A wake-up call from Luke’s jets” (Letters, Thursday): On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day. At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend. Based on the letter writer’s recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I’m sure you didn’t hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son’s flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured. A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects. The letter writer asks, “Whom do we thank for the morning air show?” The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives. Lt. Col. Scott Pleus CO 63rd Fighter Squadron Luke AFB