A U.S. Air Force fighter pilot from Utah was killed Monday, when the plane he was flying crashed into the North Sea.
The Royal Air Force reported that 1st Lt. Kenneth Allen, assistant chief of weapons and tactics for the 493rd Fighter Squadron, was killed when his F-15C Eagle crashed.
Allen had been assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in Suffolk, England, since February. He grew up in northern Utah.
The 27-year-old Allen was a 2017 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to the military newspaper Stars & Stripes. Before that, he served a mission in Chile for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Col. Will Marshall, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lt. Allen, and mourn with his family and his fellow Reapers in the 493rd Fighter Squadron. The tremendous outpouring of love and support from our communities has been a ray of light in this time of darkness.”
Marshall said Allen’s plane crashed into the North Sea “during a routine training mission,” about 9:30 a.m. local time Monday. A search and rescue effort, aided by the British coast guard, found the plane, and confirmed that Allen died in the crash.
Allen’s wife, Hannah, posted a heartfelt farewell to her husband, whom friends and family called “Kage,” on Facebook on Tuesday morning. She also posted a video of her husband playing guitar, singing Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.”
“I never knew a heart could shatter like this,” she wrote. “But I’ve promised you today that the rest of my life will be a tribute to you. A tribute to the Christlike way you lived and loved.”
Utah political leaders were among those paying tribute to Allen on social media. Sen. Mitt Romney, in a tweet, praised Allen as “a young man known for his faith, kindness, and patriotism.” Gov. Gary Herbert, also on Twitter, said Allen “was a Utahn dedicated to making a difference in the world, and kept his virtue through both triumph and disaster.”
A GoFundMe account has been established to help pay for funeral and travel expenses for Allen’s family.