Former Fightertown aviator lost in private plane crash

3 Oct 2007 | Lance Cpl. Dane M. Horst

The Marine Corps recently lost a combat-seasoned naval flight officer of more than 20 years and Fightertown lost a friend in a private plane crash in Chesapeake, Va., Oct. 3.

Lt. Col. Jefrey Arnold, the 44-year-old former Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron commanding officer and former Marine Aircraft Group-31 executive officer, was piloting an experimental aircraft trying to return to the local airport for an emergency landing when it crashed along Route 17.

“(Arnold) always had a passion for flying,” said Maj. Teagan Yonash, the executive officer of H&HS. “My family and I are fortunate to have known him. He was like a brother to my wife, and I and an uncle to my children.”

Arnold transferred from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., to assume command of H&HS in July 2003. The Dallas native held command for two years until July 2005 when he was reassigned to MAG-31 as the executive officer.

“There was no other CO that I served with, as a first sergeant or sergeant major, that was as just and fair as Lt. Col. Arnold was with his Marines,” said Gary Rivard, the Air Station’s anti-terrorism officer and a retired Fightertown sergeant major.

Arnold completed a year as the MAG-31 XO in July 2006 and was transferred to Joint Forces Command where he was an observer trainer with the Deployable Training Team at the Joint Warfighting Center in Suffolk, Va.

“The thing I remember the most about (Arnold) was his outlook on life and his sense of humor,” said Lt. Col. Todd Taylor, the operations officer for Fightertown. “It seemed like he always had a smile on his face and a positive attitude when it came to life. He will truly be missed by not only his friends and family, but the Marine Corps too.”

Arnold was laid to rest Wednesday surrounded by his friends and family in Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Fla. The Fightertown Officer’s Club held a local memorial service for his friends here the same day in remembrance of him and his accomplishments aboard the Air Station.

Headquarters Marine Corps