Fellow airmen fight back tears as they memorialize fallen pilot - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Fellow airmen fight back tears as they memorialize fallen pilot

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SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, SC (WIS) -

On Tuesday, the men and women of Shaw Air Force Base who knew and loved Capt. James Steel said goodbye to the airman.

The 29-year-old was killed earlier this month when his F-16 crashed as he was coming in for landing near Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

Steel was affectionately known as "Mano" to fellow his airmen who held back tears as they shared stories of a man in his prime, a man that loved serving his country, and a man that died doing what he loved.

"Mano was relentless in his pursuit to serve others before himself," said Capt. Daniel Duncan. "He was constantly offering help to anyone in need, looking for ways to assist others and he never passed up an opportunity to serve those around him."

Steel was an 80's baby with a big heart and an even bigger smile. Born into a military family, he followed in his parents footsteps and attended the United States Air Force Academy before taking his turn behind Ff-16 fighter pilots like his father, retired Maj. General Robert Steel

"He always looked up to us, and now we are honored and so very proud to look up to him," said Robert.

His long list of accomplishments included over 400 hours of air combat and saving the lives of fellow soldiers during an insurgent attack.

"I know you are watching over us right now, so since I never got the chance to say it that night in Afghanistan, thank you, buddy and double down, my friend," said Capt. Christopher Franks.

Steel is survived by mother, father, and five brothers and sisters.

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