Residents rally for Capt. DuBois |

Residents rally for Capt. DuBois

Air Force pallbearers moved the casket of former Rifle High School graduate, Capt. William H. DuBois, from the funeral service held at the high school to a staging area outside with a 21-gun salute and an Air Force Fly By on Sunday afternoon.
Heidi Rice/Citizen Telegram |

RIFLE — It was quiet. It was very, very quiet.

As the funeral procession for Captain William H. DuBois turned into Rifle High School on Sunday morning, you could have heard a pin drop.

What had started as a rather bawdy crowd wearing and waving American flags, turned silent in respect for the 30-year-old F-16 fighter pilot from New Castle and graduate of Rifle High School, who was killed when his plane went down in Jordan on Dec. 1 in a flight that was to be an attack on ISIS targets.

Dozens of people lined Prefontaine Avenue after a notice was posted by members of the hate-group, Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, that they planned to protest the funeral.

“When I heard they were going to protest a funeral of one of our local soldiers, I was outraged,” said Michael Parks, of Rifle.

The anti-protesters stood outside in freezing temperatures hours before the funeral service even began.

“”We’re here for the family,” said Ramy Andersen. “We will form a protective barrier between those jerks and the family. You don’t come to a town called ‘Rifle,’ where people carry guns in a restaurant.”

At one point during the long, frigid wait outside, the crowd broke out into song.

“How about ‘God Bless America?’” yelled John Harcourt, leader of the New Castle Cub Scouts Pack #221, as he began to sing.

The crowd joined in.

And they stayed through the hour-long ceremony, keeping a wary eye out for anyone who might disturb the service.

Inside, friends and fellow servicemen recalled their memories of Capt. DuBois and the kind of man he was.

DuBois had twice been named the top fighter pilot in his class and earned two top gun awards – including the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. He was also an F-16 instructor, flight lead and combat commander.

“”That kind of officership at that young age is extremely rare,” said Col. Paul Murray, 20th Operations Group commander at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, where DuBois’ 77th Fighter Squadron was deployed. “It’s once in a generation.”

But even through the sadness of the moment, the funeral was anything but morbid. In fact, friends and co-workers remembered DuBois with the same sense of humor that was obviously a big part of his personality.

His colleagues had nothing but good things to say about him.

“He was a professional man in his element, doing what he was born to do,” said Capt. Dan Kulp, a longtime friend and fellow Air Force captain.

Post Independent Editor Randy Essex contributed to this story.

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