Shaw F-16 Pilot Dies in Afghanistan

Capt. James Steel, an F-16 pilot assigned to Shaw AFB, S.C., died last week when his fighter crashed near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Steel’s F-16 went down about 10 miles south of Bagram’s runway while he was returning from a routine close air support mission, reported Stars and Stripes on April 5, the day that the Pentagon announced Steel’s death. He was 29. “Our condolences and prayers are with the family, friends, and squadron members of Captain Steel,” said Col. Clay Hall, commander of Shaw’s 20th Fighter Wing. “This is a difficult time for Shaw AFB, but we are focused on taking care of the Steel family, our airmen, and continuing to execute the mission,” he added. Steel, from Tampa, Fla., was chief of mobility for the 77th Fighter Squadron. He was a 2006 Air Force Academy graduate who had been stationed at Shaw since June 2010, according to the base officials. The accident is currently under investigation. Officials said they would release more details as they become available. (Shaw report by Capt. Ann Blodzinski) (Pentagon release) (See also our initial coverage.)