Capt. Will "Pyro" DuBois was unaware his F-16 was descending until the final second before impact in a fatal crash last December, according to a report released by the Air Force.
U.S. Air Force |

A 30-year-old Air Force captain from New Castle died Monday, Dec. 1, when his F-16 crashed in the Mideast as it started a combat mission against ISIS.

Capt. William H. DuBois, a graduate of Rifle High School and the University of Colorado, is among the first Americans killed in the fight against ISIS, the brutal Islamic extremist group that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq. DuBois’ fighter jet developed mechanical problems and crashed before it could get back to its base.

Nicknamed “Pyro,” DuBois participated in ROTC in high school and college. He is the son of Donna and William “Ham” DuBois, owner of Innermountain Distributing of New Castle. His sister, Devon, lives in Silt. He also is survived by his wife, Ashley.

“Will was so much more than a kick-ass fighter pilot,” his family said in a statement.

“He was the best man I ever knew,” his father said. “He had a short life that was so well-lived. He lived life to the fullest.”

His mother said, “What can you say about the most wonderful person to walk the planet? Will was anything but generic. Family held the highest priority in his life. He made everyone around him better. I was a better person having him as my son.”

Added his uncle Bob DuBois of New Castle: “Will was a wonderful young man with incredible spirit and he was well-liked by everyone he met. We are numb with shock. He has wanted to fly since he was a kid.”

New Castle lowered flags to half-staff at Town Hall and the town cemetery.

The Air Force said in a statement released Monday that DuBois died in the crash near a coalition air base in the Middle East. DuBois was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base in central South Carolina.

“The death of Capt. DuBois is a sad and tragic loss for the Air Force and our most sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and squadron members during this difficult time,” Col. Stephen F. Jost, 20th Fighter Wing commander, said in the Air Force statement.

“Capt. DuBois served his country honorably; he was a valuable member of Team Shaw and will be greatly missed by all.”

Reports said that the F-16 left its base late Sunday for a combat mission in Operation Inherent Resolve, as the mission against ISIS is called. The military would not disclose where the air base is located because of host nation sensitivities. CNN said it was in Jordan.

The U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of U.S. military operations in the Mideast, said the crash did not occur in either Iraq or Syria where the American-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State extremists.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the F-16 apparently turned around before engaging in any combat mission.

The Pentagon spokesman said the crash was being investigated and that it was too early to say why the pilot was unable to eject.

The Associated Press said F-16s from Shaw specialize in air-to-ground attacks on ground-based military forces and also attack anti-aircraft installations with a variety of weapons.

The squadrons at Shaw have deployed repeatedly in recent years to support U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Mideast.

Shaw Air Force Base serves as a hybrid Air Force and Army installation. It is home to both U.S. Army Central and U.S. Air Forces Central, the two commands responsible for planning and supplying U.S. forces serving from the Mideast to Afghanistan. They are the Army and Air Force units that report to the U.S. Central Command, which has its headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

Philip. P. DiStefano, chancellor at CU-Boulder, from which DuBois graduated in 2008 with a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering, issued a statement of condolences.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Capt. William Dubois,” DiStefano said. “Capt. Dubois served in the United States Air Force and represented our nation, the state of Colorado, and this university with honor and distinction. His sacrifice, and the sacrifices of the other CU men and women in uniform, are honored by our entire campus community.”

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