C-130 crash victims remembered by colleagues, leaders

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. — More than 1,000 people attended a memorial service Oct. 16 to honor two Hanscom Airmen killed earlier this month when the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft they were on crashed shortly after takeoff from Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Senior Airman Kcey E. Ruiz, 21, of McDonough, Georgia, and Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, 29, of Pensacola, Florida, were members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron.

During the service, colleagues took time to remember them personally.

“If you were blessed to be his friend, then you had an incredible person in your life, one who leaves us with a legacy we will never forget,” said Staff Sgt. Lee Shortell during his remarks on Sartain.

Shortell, who was Sartain’s supervisor, added that there were very few people he knew “whose focus on the mission and pride in their work came anywhere close to Sartain’s.”

Staff Sgt. Derek Smiling, who spoke about Ruiz on behalf of Tech. Sgt. Matthew Marquart, said she was an “amazing troop.”

“Kcey Ruiz, you were not only my troop, my sister-in-arms, but you were my friend and you are my hero,” Smiling read. “I can proudly say, ‘Kcey, you changed me.’ She made me a better person, changed the way that I am as an NCO, as a supervisor, and as a human being.”

Also recalling the two Airmen was the base commander.

“These two defenders embodied the character, honor, dedication and sacrifice of true heroes,” said Col. Michael A. Vogel, installation commander. “I could not be more proud and humbled to stand here today as Nate’s and Kcey’s base commander.”

Ruiz and Sartain were deployed with the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan as Fly Away Security Team members as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

At their home station here, both were installation entry controllers and also armorers.

“On behalf of all the men and women of the 66th Security Forces Squadron, I can tell you how proud we all are of Kcey and Nathan’s exemplary service, friendship and defender kinship,” said Maj. Joseph Bincarousky, the 66th SFS commander, to the families of the fallen Airmen. “They will always be a part of this family, and your families will always have a place in our hearts.”

Both Airmen were posthumously awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal by their unit commander.

Vogel vowed to continue to honor the Airmen’s memory by completing the mission.

“We will not falter; we will succeed,” he said. “And we will always remember our two fallen heroes and those who loved them.”

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