Team Tinker mourns loss of ‘brother’ killed in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Darren D. Heusel
  • Tinker Public Affairs
Team Tinker members went about their business with a heavy heart this week, following the news that one of their own died on Saturday in a plane crash in southern Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin, 30, a Sensor Operator assigned to the 552nd Operations Support Squadron here, died along with three other Airmen when the MC-12 aircraft they were flying in went down near Kandahar Airfield. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but officials say there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.

"Staff Sergeant Fannin was a truly outstanding Airman who made a significant impact in both the 552nd OSS and the 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron," Col. Greg Guillot, 552nd Air Control Wing commander, wrote in an email to members of the wing following the accident. "From his time in both (the E-3 "Sentry" Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft) and the MC-12, we knew Dan as a dedicated professional who always had a smile on his face and never missed an opportunity to step up to get the job done."

Colonel Guillot went on to say in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the MC-12 program in 2011, Sergeant Fannin was nominated for the Collier Trophy, which is an annual aviation award administered by the U.S. National Aeronautic Association and presented to those who have made "the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America."

"As a friend and longtime member of the 552nd ACW, Dan's death hits home for many of us," Colonel Guillot added. "As we grieve his loss, please remember we have a comprehensive support network available to assist any co-workers, families or friends, who may need assistance during this difficult time.

"On behalf of the entire 552nd Air Control Wing family, I want to express our condolences and deepest sympathy to the Fannin family and the families of the other three Airmen who were lost in this tragic accident."

Sergeant Fannin, originally from Morehead, Ky., joined the Air Force on Aug. 28, 2001 after graduating high school there.

During Sergeant Fannin's 11 years of service, he has served as an E-3 Air Surveillance Technician as well as a MC-12 Sensor Operator. While in Afghanistan, Sergeant Fannin was assigned to the 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron as a member of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Air Base.

"We never like to lose a brother or sister, and that's what Sergeant Fannin was to the men and women of the 552nd Operations Group," said Lt. Col. Joshua Conine, 552nd OSS commander. "However, we have faith knowing he was the best at what he did. He will be sorely missed as a friend and squadron mate."

Sergeant Fannin was qualified as an instructor Air Surveillance Technician and was an experienced instructor in the E-3. Prior to his most recent operations assignment, Sergeant Fannin served with distinction in the 960th AACS at Tinker.

Sergeant Fannin completed three deployed tours as an E-3 AWACS Air Surveillance Technician and MC-12 Sensor Operator. He was well known and respected throughout the 552nd Air Control Wing.

Among his many awards were the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster and the Air Force Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster.

He is survived by his wife, Sonya, of Oklahoma City. The couple has no children.

"From my personal interactions with Sergeant Fannin over the past 11 years, he was extremely proud to serve his country and went about his tasks each day with the utmost regard for excellence," Colonel Conine said.

Colonel Guillot urged anyone needing assistance, or who knows someone who may need assistance, to contact their immediate supervisor or a Tinker chaplain.

Others killed in the crash were: Capt. Brandon L. Cyr, 28 of Woodbridge, Va.; Capt. Reid K. Nishizuka, 30, of Kailua, Hawaii; and Staff Sgt. Richard A. Dickson, 24, of Rancho Cordova, Calif.

The MC-12 is a medium- to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to support ground forces.

The mission of the 552nd OSS is to prepare and provide training, resources and support functions to the 552nd Operations Group through integrated combat focus to execute 24/7 airborne battle management/command and control when called upon by combatant commanders.

Funeral services are pending.