161 ARW Remembers Fallen Servicemembers

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Matkin
  • 161 ARW Public Affairs
A KC-135 Stratotanker tail and adjoining plaque was dedicated during a memorial ceremony March 13, 2012, at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix.

The memorial ceremony marked the 30th anniversary when four 161st Air Refueling Group servicemembers lost their lives while on-duty. In 1982, a KC-135 Stratotanker, call sign Copper 5 and tail number 57-1489, launched from Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, on a training mission. At approximately 10:20 a.m. Copper 5 and her crew descended into the Phoenix area for transitions at Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Ariz. It was during this phase of that flight that a civilian aircraft collided with the tail section of the aircraft and the crew of Copper 5 was lost.

The dedication included posting of the colors by the base Honor Guard and an invocation by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Sproul, 161 ARW chaplain. The national anthem and "Amazing Grace" was played on bagpipes by Erik Landau. As a tribute of the crew members of Copper 5, Jim Pipkin played an original song he wrote called "Spirit Carries On."

Lt. Col. Edward Triebel read the poem "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee Jr., which has become a mantra for pilots.

The ceremony concluded with a fly-over by a KC-135 Stratotanker flown by servicemembers of the 161 ARW.

The plaque on the memorial aircraft tail reads:

"They slipped the surly bonds of earth... and touched the face of God."

This plaque is dedicated to the guardsmen of COPPER 5, a KC-135A (SN 57-1489), from the 161st Air Refueling Wing who perished on March 13, 1982 while flying in the skies over Arizona. In making their ultimate sacrifice and in defending the United States of America, they demonstrated that freedom and peace require eternal vigilance and gave their lives so that we could live in freedom.

Lieutenant Colonel James N. Floor - Pilot
Major Truman R. Young - Pilot
Lieutenant Colonel Ted L. Beam - Navigator
Technical Sergeant Donald J. Plough - Boom Operator

This memorial is a place of reverence and solemn resolve that we must never forget those who gave their lives in the support and hope for freedom, lest we forget that freedom is never free.

Dedicated on 13 March 2012

161st Air Refueling Wing, Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, AZ

Killed in the line of duty were the following members of the wing:
(Information from original memorial service)

Lt. Col. Ted L. Beam
Colonel Beam, a native of Johnstown, Pa., was born March 26, 1933. Commissioned upon graduation from Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., in 1955, he served on activeduty as an aircraft navigator from May 1955 through January 1960. Colonel Beam joined the Phoenix Air National Guard as navigator in April 1967. One of the most popular individuals who ever served with the Phoenix Air Guard, "Teddy" Beam was director of aircrew training for the 161st Air Refueling Group. In addition to having earned the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Reserve Meritorious Service Medal, Colonel Beam was awarded the Albert Leo Burns Trophy in 1974 as the officer who had made the most significant contribution to the mission of the Phoenix Air National Guard.

Lt. Col. James N. Floor
Colonel Floor was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on Jan. 7, 1929. Following his graduation from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, Colonel Floor served in combat during the Korean War and flew 100 fighter missions, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal seven times. Colonel Floor came home to join the Arizona "Copperheads" as a fighter pilot in 1957. A natural leader and a soft spoken, dedicated professional, Jim Floor's ability as a leader and pilot were most evident during the Phoenix Air Guard's Berlin call-up of 1961. Colonel Floor was named Commander of the 197th Air Refueling Squadron in December 1980.

Maj. Truman R. Young, Jr.
Major Young was born in San Francisco, Calif. on June 19, 1942. Major Young graduated from the Air Force Academy, Colo., in 1964. He served on active-duty to include two tours of duty as a tactical fighter pilot in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War where he was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal 14 times for his combat service. Major Young went on to earn his law degree and a master's degree in history at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., graduating in 1971. As war hero and a true gentleman, he earned a reputation as a fearless prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix. Major Young, as a man, an officer and an aviator, exemplified all that is great about the country he loved and served.

Tech. Sgt. Donald J. Plough
Sergeant Plough was born in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 2, 1934. A veteran of the Marine Corps, he joined the Phoenix Air National Guard in May 1970 and took a position as an aircraft mechanic and awaited the chance to become an aircrew member. Once accepted as an air refueling boom operator, he devoted his energy and free time to flying duty. The reputation of Sergeant Plough as an aviator, a worker and an outstanding human being was overwhelming. Sergeant Plough's personal magnetism was not limited to those who flew with him. Don was regarded as one of the fastest rising and best liked employees of the Salt River Project. Fellow employees and fellow Guard members alike have been forever touched by Don's example.