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Officials: F-16 pilot who crashed in Michigan declared dead

Officials: F-16 pilot who crashed in Michigan declared dead
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon was first deployed in the 1970s for the U.S. Air Force. Photo by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz/U.S. Air Force

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Officials said the Wisconsin Air National Guard pilot who crashed in Lake Michigan earlier this week has been declared dead.

The 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison, Wis., announced the F-16 pilot's death on Facebook Thursday, stating it will not release the identity of the service member until 24 hours after notifying next of kin.

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"We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss," 115th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Bart Van Roo said in a statement. "Today is a day for mourning. The 115th Fighter Wing and the entire Wisconsin National Guard stands with the pilot's family as we grieve the loss of a great airman and patriot."

The F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed into Michigan's Hiawatha National Forest Tuesday night during a training mission, prompting officials to deploy a search and rescue mission for the pilot.

The crash site located in Delta County was initially secured by local emergency responders before military personnel from the 115th Fighter Wing arrived on the site.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, the 115th Fighter Wing said.

"We are an extremely close knit group at the fighter wing, the loss of one of our own brings immeasurable sadness to every member of our organization," Roo said.

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