F-16 Pilot Dies in Crash

Capt. James Steel, 29, died in the crash of an F-16 near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, announced the Pentagon on Friday. He died on April 3 while returning to base from a close air support mission, according to officials from Shaw AFB, S.C., where Steel was assigned. “Our condolences and prayers are with the family, friends, and squadron members of Captain Steel,” said Col. Clay Hall, commander of Shaw’s 20th Fighter Wing. “This is a difficult time for Shaw AFB, but we are focused on taking care of the Steel family, our airmen, and continuing to execute the mission,” added Hall. Steel, from Tampa, Fla., was chief of mobility for the 77th Fighter Squadron. He was a 2006 Air Force Academy graduate who arrived at Shaw in June 2010, according to the base officials. The accident is currently under investigation. Officials said they would release more details as they become available. (Includes Shaw report by Capt. Ann Blodzinski)