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Building Dedication honors fallen Citizen Airman

  • Published
  • By by Capt. Caroline Wellman
  • 445th Airlift Wing
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- The 445th Airlift Wing honored the life and service of one of the unit's former members Oct. 4, 2008, when the wing dedicated its new operations building to Maj. LeRoy W. Homer, Jr.

Maj. Homer was part of the 445th Airlift Wing from 1995 to 2000 and died Sept. 11, 2001, while serving as the first officer on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Penn.

The emotion-filled day followed more than two and one-half years of planning and approval, said Lt. Col. Chris Clark, 445th Operations Group deputy commander, who spearheaded the approval process effort and narrated the dedication ceremony.

The ceremony provided those in attendance, which included wing Airmen, local elected officials, and base and community leaders, a hint of Maj. Homer's character and career.
Maj. Homer provided everyone with a "glimpse of the best of the human spirit," Maj. Gen. Duignan, Fourth Air Force commander and former 445th Airlift Wing commander. He called Maj. Homer a "true inspiration" who "never quit on America."

"Dressed in his United Airlines uniform, he led America into battle (Sept. 11, 2001)," Maj. Gen. Duignan said.

Col. Stephen Goeman, 445th Airlift Wing commander, echoed the repeated theme - that Maj. Homer was a real hero.

Maj. Homer was the kind of person a commander wants in his unit, the colonel said, emphasizing that Maj. Homer's legacy should not be defined only by his actions on Sept. 11, 2001, but also by the years of service the major gave to his country as an Airmen.
"We are proud to honor one of our own," Col. Goeman said.

Before and after the event, people who knew Maj. Homer readily swapped stories with one another, but everyone agreed that Maj. Homer was a humble hard-worker who always made the person he was talking to feel like the most important person in the world.

He earned his private pilot's license when he was 16, working 35 hours per week at night to pay for flying lessons. A few years later he received a presidential nomination to West Point, but chose instead to go to the Air Force Academy because he wanted to fly airplanes, not helicopters, Maj. Homer's mother Ilse Homer said.

He loved to fly and he loved his job, Mrs. Homer said of her late husband, indicating he would be honored to have a building named for him, but would probably also feel the honor was undeserved.

Mrs. Homer also thanked the Wright-Patterson AFB community for recognizing her husband's sacrifice and for providing one more way to ensure that his legacy will not be forgotten.

In addition to Maj. Gen. Duignan, Col. Goeman and Mrs. Homer, the event featured remarks from retired Col. Robert Shondel, former 445th Airlift Wing vice commander, a C-5 Galaxy flyover by the 89th Airlift Squadron here, an F-16 Fighting Falcon flyover by the 162nd Fighter Squadron from the Ohio Air National Guard Base in Springfield, and an official ribbon cutting.