A fundraiser started by Squadron Officer School students at Maxwell Air Force Base is set to raise thousands of dollars for the family of a U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot killed in a Jan. 28 crash near Italy.
Maj. Lucas "Gaza" Gruenther, who was stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, died in a training mission over the Adriatic Sea. He leaves behind his wife, Cassy, and daughter, Serene – born just days after her father died.
In a bid to bolster Serene's future, the students – Air Force captains at Maxwell for an eight-week course – reached out in their spare time to area businesses to pitch the idea of a pub crawl benefitting the family.
"The crash happened at the beginning of our fourth week here at Maxwell," said Devin Ivy, who spearheaded the effort. "When we heard about it, we thought of how we could help from afar, as a class."
Restaurant and bar owners hope to help make the event a success by offering deals to participating patrons.
Until close of business tonight (Friday 2/22), a $10 wristband commemorating Maj. Gruenther entitles the wearer to special discounts and freebies across select establishments in and around The Alley.
The general public can purchase wristbands at AviatorBar, 166 Commerce St., near The Alley.
Students at Maxwell – some of whom knew Gruenther – have already bought hundreds of the wristbands. Among those who plan to attend: a fellow F-16 pilot from a sister squadron at Aviano, Capt. Jason Kiggins.
"We'd like to invite the River Region out to toast our fallen brother and a great Airman," Kiggins said.
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