Aviano Pilot Posthumously Promoted

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley approved the posthumous promotion of Capt. Lucas Gruenther, who died in an F-16 training mishap last week, to the rank of major, according to 31st Fighter Wing officials at Aviano AB, Italy. “Major Gruenther earned his promotion during a board in late 2011 and had been waiting to pin on his new rank,” states a Feb. 1 post at the wing’s Facebook page announcing the promotion. Gruenther, the wing’s chief of flight safety, took off from Aviano on Jan. 28 on a nighttime training mission over the Adriatic Sea. Base officials lost contact with him and a search ensued. An Italian vessel recovered his body on Jan. 31. The Air Force is investigating the cause of the mishap.