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Thunderbolts and Arizonans remember Lt. Luke’s sacrifice

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018, at the state capitol in Phoenix, Ariz. Luke Jr. was killed after crash landing on his final mission, when he engaged the enemy with his sidearm instead of surrendering. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018, at the state capitol in Phoenix, Ariz. Luke Jr. was killed after crash landing on his final mission, when he engaged the enemy with his sidearm instead of surrendering. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

Senior Master Sgt. Charles Marsh, 56th Fighter Wing public affairs superintendent, emcees a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018, at the state capitol in Phoenix, Ariz. The 56th Fighter Wing is garrisoned at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., named after Luke Jr. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

Senior Master Sgt. Charles Marsh, 56th Fighter Wing public affairs superintendent, emcees a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018, at the state capitol in Phoenix, Ariz. The 56th Fighter Wing is garrisoned at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., named after Luke Jr. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

Members of the 56th Fighter Wing honor guard fold a flag to present to Donald Luke, the nephew of WWI fighter ace 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr., during a ceremony in his remembrance Sept. 26, 2018, at the state capitol in Phoenix, Ariz. Luke Jr. was killed after refusing to surrender to enemy forces after being shot down in his final mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

Members of the 56th Fighter Wing honor guard fold a flag to present to Donald Luke, the nephew of WWI fighter ace 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr., during a ceremony in his remembrance Sept. 26, 2018, at the state capitol in Phoenix, Ariz. Luke Jr. was killed after refusing to surrender to enemy forces after being shot down in his final mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

Two F-35A Lightning IIs along with two F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation over the Arizona State Capitol building during a ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the death Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix.

Two F-35A Lightning IIs along with two F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation over the Arizona State Capitol building during a ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the death Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix. The flyover was conducted in honor of Lt. Frank Luke Jr., who was the first aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, gives his remarks at the 100th Anniversary of the death of Lt. Frank Luke Jr. ceremony, Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix.

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, gives his remarks at the 100th Anniversary of the death of Lt. Frank Luke Jr. ceremony, Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix. Luke, a Phoenix native, was the first aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, listens to a curator at the Arizona Capitol Museum after a ceremony for the 100th Anniversary of the death of Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix.

Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, listens to a curator at the Arizona Capitol Museum after a ceremony for the 100th Anniversary of the death of Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix. The display honors Luke, a Phoenix native, and his accomplishments during World War I. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

From left, Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, Donald Luke, nephew of Lt Frank Luke Jr., Sen. Sine Kerr, Arizona State Senator and Rep. Tim Dunn Arizona House of Representatives pose for a photo in front of a statue representing Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix.

From left, Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, Donald Luke, nephew of Lt Frank Luke Jr., Sen. Sine Kerr, Arizona State Senator and Rep. Tim Dunn Arizona House of Representatives pose for a photo in front of a statue representing Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Sept. 26, 2018 in Phoenix. The state of Arizona erected this monument as a tribute to Frank Luke’s valor and bravery. (U.S. Air force photo by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

 

The 56th Fighter Wing and members of the local community memorialized the 100th anniversary of the death of Arizona-native 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr., a World War I ace fighter pilot and the namesake of Luke Air Force Base, Sept. 26, 2018, in a ceremony at the state capitol in Phoenix.

The ceremony included a flyover and speeches commemorating the accomplishments and legacy of Luke. Attendees included the 56th FW leadership team, state representatives, city officials from throughout the Valley, relatives of Luke, and representatives from the Arizona governor’s office.

“Because of Lt. Luke’s expertise, courage and innovation a pilot training base was named in his honor,” said Dr. Joseph Cuffari, the Arizona governor’s military and veterans affairs policy advisor. “Luke Air Force Base continues to be a greater part of our nation’s security, training fighter pilots who exhibit the same innovation, courage, and expertise Luke showed over the battlefields of Europe.”

Over the course of 18 days from Sept. 12 to Sept. 29, 1918, Frank Luke Jr. shot down 14 German observation balloons and four aircraft, becoming the second most successful American fighter ace of WWI. On his final mission, Luke was wounded by enemy fire and crashed behind enemy lines, where he was quickly surrounded. Instead of surrendering, Luke drew his sidearm and fired at the enemy until he was killed.

“Frank Luke Jr. was born [to] German immigrant[s] in May 1897 in Phoenix, Ariz.,” said Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th FW commander. “Frank Luke Jr.’s spirit reflected that of his pioneering father and the rough and tumble life of the Old West.”

For his actions, Luke was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first ever to be given to an aviator. Canterbury affirmed that Luke’s legacy drives the passion and commitment that the 56th FW has for training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen.

“Frank Luke Jr., the Arizona Balloon Buster, is one of the bravest men to ever wear the wings of the aviation section,” Canterbury said. “Innovation, fueled by Airmen like Lt. Luke, is in our heritage. The legacy of Lt. Luke continues today as we continue to train the next generation of fighter pilots.”