A Washington, D.C., National Guard pilot sustained minor injuries after ejecting from his F-16C during a training mission Wednesday morning near JB Andrews, Md. The pilot, who is assigned to the 121st Fighter Squadron at Andrews, was flying with four other Guard aircraft on a routine training mission in the Washington, D.C., area. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot experienced a mechanical issue and attempted to turn back to base. Realizing he wasn’t able to make the return, the pilot was forced to eject. He has been with the squadron for about a year, and in the National Guard for four years, and is a “very capable pilot,” squadron commander Lt. Col. Mike Croker said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The F-16 crashed near Oxon Hill, Md., at about 9:15 a.m. in a wooded area about six miles southwest of the base. There was no major property damage reported, according to a statement from the 113th Fighter Wing at Andrews. However, WUSA-9 reported about 20 homes were evacuated as a safety precaution and the family were being sheltered at the Clinton Grove Elementary School in Maryland. The jet was flying with 510 training rounds on board, and the pilots were tasked with firing 240 on a training mission at a range, Croker said. People on the ground reported hearing ammunition explode at the crash, but there was no danger. The pilot also jettisoned drop tanks before landing. Andrews explosive ordnance disposal crews responded to the site following the crash, along with local agencies.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.