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380th AEW honors fallen fighter pilot

Flowers lay at a memorial honoring U.S. Air Force Capt. Dee “Piston” Imlay, 391st Fighter Squadron F-15 pilot, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, March 28, 2021.

Flowers lay at a memorial honoring U.S. Air Force Capt. Dee “Piston” Imlay, 391st Fighter Squadron F-15 pilot, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, March 28, 2021. A memorial ceremony commemorating the nine-year anniversary of Imlay’s death included a laying of flowers as well as a 3.91 kilometer walk/run in honor of Imlay’s assigned unit at the time of his passing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Zade Vadnais)

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --

The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing honored the late Capt. Dee “Piston” Imlay, 391st Fighter Squadron F-15 pilot, with a memorial ceremony to commemorate the nine-year anniversary of his death here, March 28.

 

The ceremony included a laying of a bouquet of roses as well as a 3.91 mile walk/run in honor of Imlay’s assigned unit at the time of his passing.

 

Imlay was killed March 28, 2012, in an accident involving an F-15E Strike Eagle near Al Dhafra Air Base. He is remembered by friends, family, and teammates as a man of character, honor, and integrity.

 

“Capt. Imlay was a tremendous fighter pilot who played a vital role in supporting Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Col. Ron Buckley, then-366th Fighter Wing commander, at the time of Imlay’s passing. “As a member of one of the world’s most advanced and highly skilled fighter squadrons, Piston had an enormous impact on our Gunfighter mission.”

 

During the ceremony, Airmen gathered at Imlay’s memorial wall and were led in prayer by Chaplain (Capt.) Victor Marrero, 380th AEW Chaplain, before setting off on their 3.91 mile journey.

 

“In the sacred text it says ‘there is no greater love than the one who lays down one’s life for one’s friend,’ and that was the life he lived,” said Marrero. “In today’s run I pray we can look forward at those ahead of us and remember the individuals who came before us and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I pray we can remember the ones running behind us as a reminder of those coming after us, that we can leave a legacy behind for them to follow, much like Imlay lived. And I pray that when we are running we can look at the ones running next to us and remember that we are not alone in this journey of life.”

 

Imlay distinguished himself during his career in the performance of outstanding service to the United States. Imlay was named Distinguished Honor Graduate of his Reserve Officer Training Corps from Auburn University, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon, and the Air Force Training Ribbon.