Portland Air National Guard Base pays tribute to fallen Redhawk with street dedication

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. John Hughel
  • 142nd Fighter Wing

On a tranquil summer afternoon, nearly 100 members of the 142nd Fighter Wing gathered to commemorate a fellow fallen Redhawk, and dedicate a portion of the base here in his memory, on June 26, 2017.

Marking ten-years to the day when an Oregon Air National Guard F-15 Eagle, piloted by Maj. Gregory ‘Grumpy’ Young perished while training off the Oregon coastline; two separate ceremonies were held in his memory. Earlier in the morning, Young was honored with a wreath presentation ceremony over the Pacific Ocean from a helicopter provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Station Astoria. Later in the afternoon during a subsequent ceremony, a street was formally dedicated and named in Maj. Young’s honor.

The Presiding Officer for the event was Col. Adam Sitler, 142nd Fighter Wing vice commander, who also reflected on the similarities of the day, likening to the tragedy ten-years before.  

“It was a warm, sunny, and beautiful day; much like today – in an instant our colleague was gone,” said Sitler, addressing those gather along the intersection of Carl Street and the newly designated street in Young’s honor.

On June 26, 2007, Young was killed during a complex training exercise over the Pacific Ocean off of the Oregon coastline, leaving behind family and friends that wanted to remember his commitment, and contributions to the unit and community.

“As we approached today, the men and women of the 142nd Fighter Wing wanted to permanently memorialize our friend and colleague, ‘Grumpy,’ said Sitler. “We also felt a need to honor his sacrifice, and remind ourselves that freedom isn’t free.”

The idea behind the street naming project was generated as a collective idea during a series of weekly meetings over the last year. Although it has been a decade since his passing, many co-workers who served with Young, wanted to honor him with a daily reminder of his sacrifice.

The roadway leading from Carl Street to the alert facility had no formal designation, so naming the road used on a regular basis and critical to the daily mission was a perfect choice.

During his senior year of college at Oregon State University, Col. Sean Sullivan, 142nd Fighter Wing Operations Group commander was a roommate and friend of Young’s.  Both finished Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) before joining the Air Force active duty ranks, and then eventually, returning to Oregon and flying with the Air National Guard.

“The roadway is a lasting way to remember a true American, a true Oregonian, and a friend,” said Sullivan. “It means a great deal to me that he will always be remembered on base, even after those of us who knew him well are gone.”

Joining the Airmen from the 142nd Fighter Wing for the street dedication were Maj. Young’s parents, David and Carolyn Young of St. Helens, Oregon. The roadway leading to the alert facility will now be known as “Young Way.”