A day after the nation paused to remember its servicemembers, the Spokane community stopped to remember its three most recently fallen military members.
Thousands turned out Tuesday to honor Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, Capt. Victoria Pinckney and Tech. Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III in a memorial ceremony at the INB Performing Arts Center.
The series of speakers, many of whom knew all three airmen, described the trio as dedicated, humble and faithful servants.
“He followed his passions and lived his dream,” Marcelle Voss said of her son, who wanted to be a pilot since elementary school and turned those aspirations into a reality in the Air Force.
She asked those in attendance to learn from her son, who never hesitated to help people whether he knew them or not.
The airmen died May 3 when their refueling plane exploded and crashed in Kyrgyzstan.
Voss, who went by his middle name, grew up in Austin, Texas, and graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 2008. He became an aircraft commander in March. He loved building and experimenting with planes, cars, bikes and just about anything else with wheels.
“He had no idea how fast he was going, but he wouldn’t stop until he got there,” Voss’ friend, Capt. Tino Diaz, said during the ceremony. “That was Tyler.”
Diaz described Voss, 27, as the kind of guy who always seemed to succeed, even with his motorcycle stunts. He once asked Diaz for duct tape and a Sharpie marker to fix up his bike.
“I still have no idea what the Sharpie was for,” Diaz said. “But that was Tyler.”
Pinckney, 27, of Spokane, was honored as both an airman and a mother – two roles her friend Lt. Col. Pat O’Brien said she kept in “perfect balance.”
Pinckney, who grew up in Palmdale, Calif., also graduated in 2008 from the United States Air Force Academy, where she was a member of the rugby team.
Friend and teammate Capt. Ashly Barnes recalled Pinckney taking the time to teach a first-year player the right way to tackle.
“Which meant that Tory spent hours being tackled,” Barnes said.
She described her friend as a loving wife to her husband, Richard, who she met in prep school, and mother to their 8-month-old son, Gabriel.
“If he’s anything like his mother, he will grow up to be a man who makes the world a better place,” Barnes said.
Mackey, 30, of Bakersfield, Calif., also was honored for being a veteran and a father.
He enlisted in the Air Force in 2001 and served on bases in Georgia, Japan, Nevada and Washington.
“He could walk into a room, not know anybody and leave knowing everyone,” his friend Staff Sgt. Ben Davis recalled.
Mackey frequently invited cadets to his house for holidays just so they would have somewhere to go. He was regarded for his smile, which people said he passed down to his daughter, Peyton. She recently won a contest for having the best smile.
O’Brien, who knew all three airmen, said they were a “reflection of what is best about our country.” He spoke of a calling to serve that extended deep into each family’s roots and pledged their sacrifices would not be in vain.
A 21-gun salute outside the building rattled against the walls inside the silent auditorium before a single horn played taps. Each service member in the audience passed by the stage to salute the fallen men and woman.
Spokane Mayor David Condon issued a proclamation declaring Tuesday as Remembrance Day. He rested a copy of the proclamation behind each service member’s boots, which were placed on the stage beneath photos of Voss, Pinckney and Mackey. He spoke of the love and support the Spokane community feels for the Fairchild airmen and their family members.
“We are humbled by your loved ones’ sacrifice, and your sacrifice,” he said.