2 Air Force Academy Graduates Killed In Plane Crash

From left: Capt. Victoria Pinckney, Capt. Mark Voss (Credit: Fairchild AFB)

Two Air Force Academy graduates were has been named among the casualties in a plane crash Friday.

Capt. Mark T. Voss, 27 and Capt. Victoria Pinckney, both 27, were on a refueling plane that crashed in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Voss, Pinckney and 30-year-old Tech Sgt. Herman Mackey III were killed. They were the only ones on board. The Department of Defense released their names Sunday.

The U.S. established an air base in Kyrgyzstan in 2001 to help with the war effort in Afghanistan. A U.S. official says the plane was on a refueling mission when it crashed. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Witnesses said it appeared to explode while in flight.

The plane split in the crash, with some pieces landing in areas that were difficult for recovery teams to reach. A search for the victims was suspended Friday night and resumed Saturday morning. Two of the bodies were found Saturday near the wreckage site.

Voss, Pinckney and Mackey were stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington, and assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron. Voss and Pinckney graduated from the Air Force Academy. According to the base, Voss is originally from Boerne, Texas, a suburb of San Antonio, and Pinckney hailed from Palmdale, Calif. Pinckney leaves behind a 7-month-old son, Gabriel, pictured here and husband Richard Pinckney Jr.

A wing commander with Fairchild told KREM, the Spokane, Wash. CBS affiliate, that the victims would be remembered as heroes.

"We will forever honor Tyler, Tori and Tre as patriots and heroes. Team Fairchild will do everything we can to support their families and friends during this profoundly difficult time. These airmen leave behind an incredible legacy of service and honor in protecting our nation and the world. They show what we all know, freedom is not free."