The 621st CRW honors fallen Air Advisors during 12th annual memorial

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Malissa Lott
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing

Air Advisors and Gold Star Families attended the 12th annual Air Advisor Memorial May, 23, 2024, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

The Air Advisor community started the remembrance ceremony after nine of their own were lost in Afghanistan on April 27, 2011. Each year, the Air Advisor community gathers to ring the bell representing the remembrance of the fallen.

Completed July 2012, the Air Advisor Memorial is located at the Air Advisory Academy at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. – where all advisors receive training. With the help of the local community, U.S. Air Force Col. John Holm built the memorial to remember the fallen Air Advisors who were killed during an insider shooting in Afghanistan in 2011.

“This year, we were humbled to add the first and second Combat Aviation Advisor plaques to the memorial wall by remembering Maj. William Downs and Maj. Mark Todd,” said Tech Sgt. Robert Knipfer, 818, Mobility Support Advisory Squadron senior emergency actions controller.

This brings the total memorialized to 14.

U.S. Air Force Maj. William Downs and Maj. Mark Todd were killed in a helicopter crash in 2015 while serving in Afghanistan. Their families attended the memorial and paid tribute to their loved ones.

“This year is the 12th Annual Remembrance Ceremony and only the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic that we have been able to gather as a community to welcome past, present and current Air Advisors and Gold Star Families,” Knipfer said. “During our Annual Remembrance Ceremony, we take an intentional moment to both honor and remember those Air Advisors who died in service to our country.”

Within the U.S. military and the Department of Defense, Air Advisors have an important role; not only do they serve a military function to make coordination and cooperation more effective, but they also serve a diplomatic role, to stabilize relations, build trust and confidence, as well as project America’s strength. 

“Air Advisors and Combat Aviation Advisors have very similar missions set in that we are often employed to assess, train, advise and assist foreign air forces on airpower employment and sustainment,” Knipfer said. “It’s in this familial mindset that we honor and pay tribute to our fallen comrades and to the Gold Star Families that they have left behind.”