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Gazette Premium Content Academy grad laid to rest at alma mater's cemetery

Erin Prater Updated: March 22, 2013 at 12:00 am

A 2003 Air Force Academy graduate and F-16 pilot who died during a training exercise over the Adriatic Sea was laid to rest Friday at the academy’s cemetery.

Maj. Lucas Gruenther’s widow, daughter, parents and fellow airmen were among the nearly 100 who gathered for the grave-side funeral.

Chaplain Capt. Zebulon Beck, who officiated, said Gruenther was being buried among “men and women he would have called friends” and who loved the Air Force as much as he did.

“In a way, Lucas is home,” Beck said.

Gruenther, who was assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, went missing Jan. 28 during a night training mission. His body was discovered Jan. 31 by an Italian vessel that was aiding in the search effort.

Gruenther posthumously received the Aerial Achievement Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

He is survived by his widow, Cassy, and daughter, Serene, who was born just hours after his Feb. 6 memorial service at Aviano Air Base, said his mother, Romel Mathias.

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