Anthony Wentz

Anthony Wentz, in 2016, before attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Falcon High School teachers who had Anthony Wentz in class were devastated to hear the news over the weekend that one of their star students had been killed Friday in a military training accident at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas.

“I can't help but think of his energy, his spunk, his smile and his goofiness,” said his former Spanish teacher, Brooke Neilson.

Wentz, 23, graduated from Falcon High in 2016, served an appointment at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York and was a student pilot in training in the 47th Student Squadron at Laughlin.

Officials from the 47th Flying Training Wing said two supersonic jet trainers had a mishap on a runway on Friday, killing Wentz and injuring two other pilots. 

Wentz was one of six classmates among the Class of 2016 to receive appointments to U.S. military academies — a school record.

Wentz always strived for the best in high school, Neilson said, and went above and beyond in his studies.

“He was an exemplary student, friend, classmate and teammate,” she said. “I imagine he was an even better son and brother. I am heartbroken for his family.”

In Katie Wasson’s advanced-placement English class, Wentz was “the type of student teachers want to clone,” she said. “He was incredibly well-liked and a wonderful student.”

While it’s not uncommon for high schools to lose students during and after their academic career, Spanish teacher Jim Rottenborn said Wentz will be missed.

Rottenborn first met Wentz when he was a freshman. His older brother, Matt, who also attended West Point, was an earnest student, Rottenborn said, and would only have fun after all the work was done.

The younger Wentz was the opposite, he said, leaning toward “fun first, during and after.” 

But even though he was enjoying all that life had to offer, Wentz “got the job done very well,” Rottenborn said.

One example: As National Honor Society sponsor, Rottenborn oversaw the school's annual Halloween-themed Treat Street fundraiser involving the community.

Wentz showed up with a tricycle one year during decorating time and rode it around the hallways, Rottenborn said. But as it got closer to the opening, Wentz unleashed his “raw leadership” and rallied everyone to complete the tasks at hand, his teacher said.

Wentz decided while he was still in high school that he wanted to become a pilot, Rottenborn said.

“When he told me this goal, I had my doubts, even after all of the things I had seen him accomplish,” Rottenborn said. “His trainers and commanding officers saw something in Anthony that told them they could trust him with this very difficult job.

“The world needs to know what we’ve lost.”

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

Load comments