New mother, aviator from Palmdale killed in Asia

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Wreckage of US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, near the village of Chaldovar, Kyrgyzstan. (AP Photo)

Wreckage of US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, near the village of Chaldovar, Kyrgyzstan. (AP Photo)

PALMDALE (CNS) – An Air Force captain who is a new mother from Palmdale was identified by the Pentagon today as one of three airmen killed when their tanker plane crashed in Central Asia, while supporting American troops in Afghanistan.

Capt. Victoria “Tori”‘ A. Pinckney, 27, of Palmdale, was killed in the Friday crash of a KC-135 tanker near Chon-Aryk, Krygyzstan, the Defense Department announced.

Colorado Springs television station KKTV reported that Pinckney was the mother of a seven-month-old son, and was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

She was one of three airmen in a KC-135 refueling plane when it went down in mountains after a midair explosion during a refueling operation, the Pentagon announced. That plane is a military version of the venerable Boeing 707 passenger plane, and the American aerial refueling fleet was built five decades ago.

The Pentagon said two other airmen were also killed: Capt. Mark T. Voss, 27, of Boerne, Texas, a San Antonio suburb, and Tech Sgt. Herman Mackey III, 30, of Bakersfield. All three were attached to the Air Force’s 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild AFB in Washington state.

Since 2001, KC-135s are stationed at an Air Force base in Krygyzstan to refuel cargo jets flying to and from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

A wing commander at Fairchild told KREM television in Spokane that the loss has hit the base hard.

“We will forever honor Tyler, Tori and Tre as patriots and heroes,” the commander said. “Team Fairchild will do everything we can to support their families and friends during this profoundly difficult time.

“These airmen leave behind an incredible legacy of service and honor in protecting our nation and world. they will show what we all know, (that) freedom isn’t free.”

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