Memorial Service Held For Fallen Air Force Pilot From California


U.S. Air Force

A memorial service for Maj. Lucas Gruenther is held in a hangar on Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 6, 2013.

Loved ones of Air Force Maj. Lucas "Gaza" Gruenther held a memorial service today in a hangar at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Gruenther, a California native, went missing during a training mission last week. His body was recovered from the Adriatic Sea on January 31.

Gruenther, 32, was assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano Air Base. His memorial service was attended by roughly 1,000 fellow Airmen, friends, and loved ones, according to 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs.

He was a 1999 graduate of Summerville High in Tuolumne City. Gruenther also graduated from the prestigious U.S. Air Force Academy.

Gruenther is survived by his wife, Cassy, and their daughter Serene. Cassy Gruenther spoke at the memorial service, saying of her husband:

"He lived a live full of adventure and full of love. If he were here, he would challenge each and every one of you to go climb that mountain you've been waiting to climb, he would tell you to plan that trip you haven't planned, he would tell you to call that friend you've been thinking about, and he would tell you to be sure to tell your loved ones you love them every day.

"So I challenge you now, for him, and in his memory."

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