Community dedicates E-3 replica to fallen Airman

  • Published
  • By Darren D. Heusel
  • Tinker Public Affairs
By her own admission, Sonya Fannin's greatest fear after her husband was killed last year in a plane crash in Afghanistan was that his legacy would soon be forgotten.

But, members of the Del City community soon laid that fear to rest when they dedicated a replica of an E-3 "Sentry" Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft in honor of Staff Sgt. Daniel Fannin during a ceremony April 4.

"Everyone reassures me that Daniel won't be forgotten, but nonetheless, it has been my biggest fear that he might be," Sonya told the crowd of about 300 on a chilly morning outside the base gate. "But, this memorializes his very essence, his giving spirit in a way which those in the public can see."

Fannin, a sensor operator assigned to the 552nd Operations Support Squadron at Tinker, died April 27, 2013, nearly two weeks after his 30th birthday along with three other Airmen when the MC-12 aircraft they were flying in went down near Kandahar Airfield.

"Memorializing Danny here in this public park, a place in which our civilian friends and family can visit and heal on their own time, is truly special," Sonya said.

"It is a very touching and fitting tribute to our fallen hero," said Col. Jay Bickley, 552nd ACW vice commander. "His sacrifice for our nation will forever be memorialized."

Bickley also praised the base's relationship with the local community and said he is "constantly humbled by the overwhelming support we receive from them."

Fannin, originally from Morehead, Ky., joined the Air Force on Aug. 28, 2001 after graduating high school. He met his wife Sonya, of Oklahoma City, while stationed at Tinker AFB.

During his 11 years of service, the Sergeant served as an E-3 Air Surveillance Technician as well as a MC-12 Sensor Operator. While in Afghanistan, he was assigned to the 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron as a member of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Air Base.

Fannin was qualified as an instructor Air Surveillance Technician and was an experienced instructor in the E-3. Prior to his final operations assignment, he served with distinction in the 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron at Tinker AFB.

Fannin completed three deployed tours as an E-3 AWACS Air Surveillance Technician and MC-12 Sensor Operator. He was well known and respected throughout the 552nd ACW.

Among his many awards were the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster and the Air Force Achievement Medal.

Inscribed on the tail of the E-3 replica honoring Sergeant Fannin are the words, "Service Before Self," one of the Air Force core values that those who knew him say he lived and died by.