Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Airforce Maj Michael Freyholtz

Remember Our Heroes

Maj. Michael Freyholtz, 34, from Hines, Minn.,assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron; killed in the C-17 crash on July 28, 2010.

Major Freyholtz flew 608 combat hours supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He recently accompanied the precision U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds throughout the Pacific, flying a C-17. The 249th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard mourns the passing of one the Air Force's premier C-17 Pilots, Major Michael H. Freyholtz.

Michael Freyholtz's ex-wife and their two children were driving to Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday evening when they saw black smoke rising from a fire miles away. The sight was a somber one for the children, who had to move this spring after the fourplex where they lived with their mom caught fire. "Hope it's not our house," they said. "We don't need any more bad news."

The reality was much worse.Maj. Freyholtz, who grew up in Hines Township, in Minnesota's Beltrami County, was one of four airmen killed when their cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. They were practicing for an air show.

As soon as Kim Freyholtz realized the smoke was from a crash on the base, she tried calling her ex-husband's cell phone. "It didn't ring," she said. "There was nothing. I kind of knew right then and there."

Freyholtz, 34, was a devoted father, his ex-wife said. The couple divorced amicably about a year ago, but they talked every day and got together regularly for activities with their 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, she said.

This summer, Freyholtz coached his son's Little League team with his best friend, fellow pilot Aaron Malone. On Wednesday, Malone, of Anchorage, died with Freyholtz, along with Capt. Jeffrey Hill of York, Pa., and Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo of Anchorage, according to the military. Freyholtz and Malone were pilots assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron. Hill was a pilot assigned to Elmendorf's 517th Airlift Squadron, and Cicardo was the 249th Airlift Squadron loadmaster.

Freyholtz attended Blackduck High School and the University of Minnesota Duluth before joining the Air Force in May 1998, his family said. "He wanted to be a pilot from the time he was knee-high," said his mother, Mary Freyholtz, of Hines Township.

During pilot training, when the time came for him to express a preference between flying cargo planes and fighter jets, his wife urged him to take what they saw as "the safer way, ironically enough," Kim Freyholtz said.

Major Freyholtz joined the United States Air Force in May of 1998 and received his officer commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp program. He attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force, where he received his Air Force pilot wings in May of 2000.

Major Freyholtz was selected to fly the C-17 "Globemaster III" out of pilot training and attended initial C-17 qualification training at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. While on active duty, he was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base and McChord Air Force Base as a C-17 Aircraft Commander, Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner.

Major Freyholtz left active duty to move to Alaska and join the Alaska Air National Guard in May of 2007. He was the first outside pilot hired for the new 249th Airlift Squadron and was highly instrumental in its stand up. Initially, he served in a Drill Status Guardsmen capacity and worked for Boeing as a full-time C-17 simulator instructor. Later, he became a full-time Technician in the 249th Airlift Squadron and led its standardization/evaluation section. He was a very highly regarded C-17 Pilot and the unit's first C-17 Flight Examiner Pilot and Air Show Demonstration Pilot. Most recently, he accompanied the United States Air Force Thunderbirds throughout the Pacific and demonstrated the capabilities of the C-17 to thousands of air show spectators.

Major Freyholtz accumulated more than 3500 military flying hours in the T-37, T-1 and C-17 aircraft. He flew 608 combat hours in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM for which he received the Air Medal. Major Freyholtz home town of record is Hines, Minnesota.

In addition to his children, son Trevor, and daughter Fiona, former wife Kim, and mother Mary, Freyholtz is survived by his father, Harvey Freyholtz, a brother and two sisters. The family hopes to hold a memorial service in Minnesota at a later date, his mother said.

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