Lakenheath pays tribute to fallen Airman
By DoD News
More than 500 Airmen and family members gathered in Hangar 7 here March 11 to honor the memory of Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden.
Airman Alden, a 48th Security Forces Squadron senior patrolman, was killed March 2 in a shooting at Frankfurt International Airport.
The service painted a picture of a devoted man who deeply loved his family and his unit.
The first eulogy was given by Elder Craig Wright of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I am humbled to know that we are gathered here as a family seeking to reach out to an individual and his family. What a powerful principle you are demonstrating here today,” Elder Wright said.
The elder went on to tell the audience about Airman Alden’s upbringing and family life.
“He was dependable, he took on a lot at a young age to help his single mother,” he said. “He loved life and was a loyal son, husband and brother.”
Col. Cassie Barlow, the 48th Mission Support Group commander, spoke next, saying to Airman Alden’s children, Lilly and Will, “I’m going to tell you about your awesome dad.”
Airman Alden was a stellar security forces Airman, Colonel Barlow said, both at his previous assignment at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and RAF Lakenheath. After he mastered his specialties, he helped other Airmen learn theirs.
“(Airman Alden) was a professional who knew his job inside and out,” Colonel Barlow said. “He was always looking for a problem to solve and making our Air Force a better place.”
A testament to the far-reaching effects of Airman Alden’s death, Louis Susman, the U.S. Ambassador to Britain, brought with him a message from President Barack Obama.
“(President Obama) said, and I quote, ‘His death stands as a stark reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices all of our men and women in uniform are making all around the world,'” Ambassador Susman said.
Col. John T. Quintas, the 48th Fighter Wing commander, spoke directly to Airman Alden’s wife, Trish.
“I hope you feel like you are surrounded by family, because you are,” he said, telling the audience of the unique place security forces holds within the Air Force.
“Their mission is to protect and defend, to rush to the sound of gunfire and stand in harm’s way,” Colonel Quintas continued before lauding the amount of support that has appeared from across the Lakenheath community and the world.
“On March 2 we saw the worst of human nature,” he said, “but we responded with the best we and our allies had to offer.”
After such glowing words from clergy, military and civilian leaders, a few of Airman Alden’s fellow security forces Airmen came forward to offer their thoughts. One was Staff Sgt. Trevor Brewer, who survived the shooting that took Airman Alden’s life.
“He wasn’t just a subordinate, he was a brother,” Sergeant Brewer said. “Every time he walked into a room, it lit up. It was an honor and a privilege to know him.”
As eulogies concluded, Airman Alden was posthumously awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal as a 21-gun rifle volley sounded, and a “missing man” formation of F-15 Eagles roared overhead.
The gathered Airmen and families then were allowed to come forward to pay their last respects to Airman Alden.
“I’m extremely proud of Nick Alden and all the other defenders who were worthy to stand at his side, behind him, in front of him, and will now stand in his place,” said Lt. Col. Michael Ross, the 48th SFS commander. “He will always be part of our lives.”