USAFE Fallen Airman
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Staff Sergeant Mark A. Spence

Staff Sergeant Mark A. Spence

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Stationed: Aviano Air Base, Italy
Unit Assigned: 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment
Date Fell: Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Gen Hobbins and CMSAF McKinley saluting at memorial

Previous U.S. Air Forces in Europe Commander Gen. William T. Hobbins and Previous Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley issue a final salute during a memorial ceremony held Nov. 15 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, in honor of the six servicemembers who were killed when an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter attached to the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment that crashed Nov. 8

SSgt Spence smiling

SSgt Spence showing a smile

Staff Sgt. Mark A. Spence, 24, was an avionics sensors team leader. He was killed in a helicopter crash near Treviso, Italy, from injuries received as the result of the accident.

He was born in Buffalo, New York.

He went from being the fastest runner in an elementary school track meet to competition with the cross country and football teams at Clarence High School.

He graduated from Clarence High School in 2001, completed a year's study at the University at Buffalo, and then joined the Air Force in 2003, arriving at Aviano AB, Italy in January 2004 as a member of the 31st Fighter Wing. His maternal grandfather, Donald Rhoads, who died in January, helped design airplanes and led to SSgt Spence's enlistment.

SSgt Spence quickly rose through the ranks and was an avionics sensors team leader, heading a crew of eight that maintained weapons guidance and navigational systems for F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

Mark also enjoyed photography and travel.

He continued his college studies while in the service, compiling a perfect 4.0 grade point average and expected to graduate soon from Park University with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He was going to come home in June to take the New York State trooper's exam. He wanted to become a detective in the State Police.

"I'm tremendously proud of my son and the job he was doing," his father, Mark T. Spence, said.

Mark is survived by his wife, Elana, his parents, Mark T. Spence and Kim Rhoads-Spence, two brothers, Robert and Michael, and his grandmothers, Evelyn Rhoads and Alice. He and Elana were expecting the couple's first child in May 2008.