Salutes & Awards

December 14, 2018
 

Honoring the life of Capt. Stephen “Trip” Grace

Senior Airman Alexander Cook
Luke AFB, Ariz.

A picture of Capt. Stephen “Trip” Grace is displayed during a memorial service Dec. 7, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Grace was assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron and was recognized as the Company Grade Officer of the Year in 2018.

The life of Capt. Stephen “Trip” Grace was honored during a memorial service Dec. 7, 2018, on the 61st Fighter Squadron ramp at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., where friends and family members poured in from around the world to show their love and support.

“Captain Grace was a true fighter pilot who lived life large,” said Lt. Col. Rhett “Hero” Hierlmeier, 61st Fighter Squadron commander. “He was a phenomenally gifted instructor pilot who taught and lead by example. He crushed every single challenge the Air Force threw at him earning the respect of his friends and fellow warriors along the way.”

Grace collapsed during an evening run and passed away from an unexpected heart attack.

Kelsey Grace, spouse of Capt. Stephen “Trip” Grace, kisses their daughter, Georgia Grace, during Capt. Grace’s memorial service Dec. 7, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Numerous family members and friends were in attendance to honor and celebrate the life of Grace.

A graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, Grace received his commission with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in 2010. Throughout his fighter pilot training, he received the Distinguished Graduate Award twice and was named class Top Gun. As an instructor pilot in the 80th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, he was recognized as the Squadron Instructor Pilot of the Year and was distinguished as the Outstanding Flight Contributor by his peers. He also deployed to the Middle East in support of regional stability operations in 2014.

During the ceremony, Grace’s fellow wingmen shared some of their greatest memories of him.

“Whether you’ve known him for 20 seconds when meeting him for the first time or for 20 years, I think everyone knows what a huge impact he’s made on anyone he’s ever met,” said Maj. Anthony “Bolo” Zelasko, 61st FS instructor pilot. “He was a model fighter pilot and an incredible instructor that I feel every instructor pilot and student alike would walk out of every flight with him having learned something new.”

A Luke Air Force Base honor guardsman plays Taps during a memorial service for Capt. Stephen “Trip” Grace Dec. 7, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Airmen from across Luke paused to honor and celebrate the life of Grace.

Capt. Grace was not only an incredible fighter pilot, he was also a great father to his daughter Georgia who he loved very much.

“Trip was a model family man that I think everyone could look up to. He always had a way of making my son laugh and smile whenever we would spend time with him and his wife,” said Zelasko.

The service came to an end as two F-35A Lightning II’s and two F-16 Fighting Falcons flew overhead in a Missing Man Formation serving as a final salute to Captain Grace.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why Trip was taken from us,” said Hierlmeier. “What I do know is that during his time on earth, he made a tremendous impact on a great number of people.”
 

A fighter pilot touches Capt. Stephen “Trip” Grace’s F-35 helmet during his memorial service Dec. 7, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Numerous family members and friends were in attendance to honor and celebrate the life of Grace.

 

Georgia Grace, daughter of Capt. Stephen “Trip” Grace, sits in front of an F-35A Lightning II dedicated in her father’s name Dec. 7, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Capt. Grace was an instructor pilot in the 61st Fighter Squadron and was twice recognized as Company Grade Officer of the Quarter.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid

New 56th Communications Squadron facility to open in 2020

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid Oscar Siqueiros, Army Corps of Engineers project manager discusses building plans for the new 56th Communication Squadron building, Jan. 14, 2019 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz....
 
 

New Year’s Resolution: Read about the past for the future

It’s a common refrain today: People don’t read anymore. Gone, it seems, are the days of printed newspapers, as subscriptions have steadily declined and many daily publications have disappeared. It seems all but certain that we live in an era of headlines and newsfeed snippets that offer information designed for the passing glance at phone...
 
 

U.S. military says service members killed in Syria blast

Two U.S. service members, one Department of Defense civilian and one contractor supporting DOD were killed and three service members were injured while conducting a local engagement in Manbij, Syria, Jan. 16, 2019. The troops were killed in an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria, the U.S. military said, an attack that came...