December 29, 1980 - January 28, 2013
Major Lucas F. Gruenther is an F-16 Flight Lead and the Chief of Flight Safety for the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy. As Chief of Flight Safety, he develops and executes all aspects of the wing commander's flight safety mishap prevention and response program. He is responsible for conducting mishap investigations and safety inspections. Additionally, Major Gruenther directs various working groups, writes and maintains the wing Mishap Response Plan, and coordinates safety concerns on all matters relating to airfield construction and maintenance.
Major Gruenther earned his commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 2003, where he was a Distinguished Graduate and member of the Parachute Team, the “Wings of Blue”. He went on to attend Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, TX in 2004. Following pilot training, Maj Gruenther remained at Sheppard and served as a T-37 Instructor Pilot until attending the F-16 Basic Course in 2009 with the 162nd Fighter Squadron in Springfield, OH. Major Gruenther currently flies with the World Famous Highly Respected “Triple Nickel” where he has served as the Assistant Chief of Training, Chief of Plans, and combat F-16 pilot during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, accumulating over 400 combat hours. Major Gruenther earned his Master’s Degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and is a Distinguished Graduate of Squadron Officer School.
On January 28, 2013, Lucas was on a training mission over the Adriatic Ocean in Italy. During the training sortie Lucas was forced to eject from his F-16 and did not survive the ejection. Luc is survived by his daughter Serene Gruenther born on February 7, 2013, his wife of 7 years, Cassy Gruenther, his mom Romel Mathias, his brother and sister-in-law Alex & Britton Gruenther, his brother Chance Hildreth, his grandmother Melba Mathias, his grandmother Brigitta Gruenther. His Aunts Megan & Marissa Mathias and cousins Sara, Eza, Max, McKenzie and Isabella; and the rest of his family and friends.