Tribute to Capt. Eric “Dirk” Ziegler
U.S. Air Force officials have identified the pilot involved in an aircraft mishap near Caliente, Nev., June 28 as Capt. Eric Ziegler, an operational test and evaluation instructor pilot with the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base.
Capt. Eric Ziegler, aged 30, is a 1999 graduate of West Fargo High School in North Dakota. Ziegler leaves behind a 9-month-old daughter and his wife, Sarah, a North Dakota native who also works for the Air Force in Las Vegas.
Ziegler, a 2003 Air Force Academy graduate, previously served two tours in Iraq. He was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base last year, after being stationed in Spangdahlen, Germany, for three years.
A native of West Fargo, N.D., Captain Ziegler was a 1999 graduate of West Fargo High School. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2003 and earned a master’s degree in 2010.
Captain Ziegler was an experienced pilot with over 1,200 flight hours, primarily in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, with operational assignments at Kunsan Air Base, Korea; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; and Nellis AFB, Nev. During those assignments, he flew more than 300 combat hours on three deployments. His decorations include the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and an Aerial Achievement Medal.
Captain Ziegler also had recently been selected to attend the elite U.S. Air Force Weapons School.
“Words can’t express how much we’ll miss Eric,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Suttlemyre, 422 TES commander. “He was a special friend, a phenomenal husband and father, and a terrific aviator and officer. Our hearts go out to his family during this difficult time.”
The family of Captain Ziegler has requested privacy, but said the following in a prepared family statement: “Eric was a man of character and faith who deeply loved his family as well as flying. His sense of humor, spontaneity, faith, zest for life, love of family and country are the hallmarks of his personality. He was a true son of the United States.”
An investigation into the accident began almost immediately. “For the next several weeks, a trained investigation board will focus its exclusive efforts on collecting and protecting evidence from the scene and gathering and analyzing all relevant data with the specific purpose of determining the cause so we may prevent future mishaps,” General O’Shaughnessy said. “The safety of the local community and our Airmen is my top priority.”
More information will be posted at www.nellis.af.mil, the Nellis Air Force Base official website, as it becomes available.
A Memorial page has been started on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/DirkZiegler
MEMORIAL SERVICE The memorial service will be Tuesday, 5 July at 0930 at the Viper AMU hangar, Nellis AFB Las Vegas. Those who wish to pay tribute to Dirk and Sarah may contribute to a 529 College Endowment Fund set up for their daughter, Anna. The fund has been set up through the Red River Fighter Pilots Association and its foundation, the Air Warrior Courage Foundation (AWCF).
Contributions may be sent to the Air Warrior Courage Foundation, P.O. Box 877, Silver Spring, MD 20918.
Please designate the contribution for Capt Ziegler’s daughter.
The AWCF can be reached by phone at (877) 921-2923,
FAX (301) 587-2923
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.