MADISON, Wis. — Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing, family members and friends gathered to honor a fellow Airman's service and sacrifices, and to recognize her achievements and dedication during a memorial ceremony on base, May 3.
Airman 1st Class Kelly C. Tomfohrde, 115th Fighter Wing tactical aircraft maintenance specialist, lost her life after falling from a fifth-story window April 5 at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. She, along with approximately 250 Airmen and 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons, deployed to Kadena Air Base in January to support the Pacific Command (PACOM) Theater Security Package to provide the PACOM region with forces capable of a variety of operations.
Tomfohrde was born Dec. 30, 1992. She enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard in February 2013. She was enrolled as a student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
During the memorial service Chief Master Sgt. Jarret Calhoun, Tomfohrde's supervisor, offered his condolences and spoke about her ability to shine professionally.
"She listened to the advice given by her supervisors on the things she needed to do to be successful in her military career," Calhoun said. "She was accomplishing them faster than we have seen before, and it was fun to watch!"
He spoke of Tomfohrde's numerous selections to deploy as a result of her motivation, performance and professionalism. She was selected by her supervisors to deploy to Volk Field Air National Guard Base in support of flying operations, and for a highly sought after temporary duty assignment to Eielson Air Force Base, Fairbanks, Alaska in support of combat readiness exercise Red Flag.
Calhoun also reflected on Tomfohrde's lasting impression.
"In a short time Kelly made a big impact," Calhoun said. "She contributed her all, set expectations and led by example. She was a valued member of our team and our [115th] family. She was an American Airman who will be deeply missed."
Col. Jeffrey J. Wiegand, 115th Fighter Wing commander, presented the Air Force Achievement Medal to Tomfohrde's parents, Timothy and Lisa.
Wiegand echoed Calhoun's comments on Tomfohrde's achievements, and emphasized how she earned a place in the hearts of 115th Fighter Wing members.
"Kelly was universally liked because of her personality and charisma," Wiegand said. "For the fighter wing Airmen she will serve as an example of how all of us can follow our desires for personal life and career progression. I am confident her spirit will continue to be followed throughout this organization."
He commended the strength of the 115th Fighter Wing organization, and expressed his confidence in its ability to move forward.
"The strength of an organization and individuals is how we overcome adversity," Wiegand said. "I am fortunate to have an incredible team here to help overcome this tragedy.
"It's extremely tough to lose a family member, a team member, a friend, an Airman of the 115th Fighter Wing — one of my Airmen," Wiegand continued. "We will continue to be here and be strong. Every day I see our cohesiveness, our comradery and how we passionately care for each other.
"Now it is our responsibility — our tough, tough task — to move forward from this unfortunate loss, and to remember the positive and lasting memory of Kelly."
Tomfohrde's awards and decorations include the Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.