Close-air support community remembers A-10 pioneer, Pierre Sprey

Pierre Sprey, 83, a retired consultant at the Pentagon as well as a noted aircraft and weapons designer, passed away Aug. 5.

Sprey was remembered as a fierce and generous founder in the A-10 community who helped Col. Avery Kay, the “father of the A-10,” build the first airframe specifically designed to provide close-air support to troops on the ground.

Sprey’s lasting impression is one that is recognized by those flying the aircraft he designed, including Lt. Col. Joel Bier, 357th Fighter Squadron commander.

“His uncompromising character will forever be reflected in the A-10 community he played a central role in establishing. He set out to design a purpose-built aircraft, and in the process, created a community of experts that remains the vanguard of the CAS and combat search and rescue missions,” said Bier.

Lt. Col. Leif Nordhagen, 355th Wing Agile Combat Employment director, recalled hearing Sprey speak at an A-10 and Joint Terminal Attack Controller Weapons School Graduation.

“I knew when we built the A-10 it would be a great plane for close support,” said Sprey at the graduation. “I never imagined the community and brotherhood that would rally around this airplane dedicated to supporting the troops on the ground and the CAS mission.”

For the A-10 community, the brotherhood they share while in support of these missions is one that is forged through a continuous legacy of tenacity.

Lt. Col. Robert Hetland, 924th Fighter Group Deputy Commander, met Sprey when he visited the 47th Fighter Squadron in July.

“He was a man who chose to do rather than to be. What he did was dedicate his incredible talents to making America better,” said Hetland. “As decades of Soldiers and Airmen fighting America’s battles will attest, he succeeded and continues to succeed.”

Sprey’s contributions to the A-10 community were instrumental in paving the way for generations to come.

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