A 2017 Air Force Academy graduate died after his fighter crashed off the coast of northern England during a training mission.

First Lt. Kenneth “Kage” Allen died Monday morning when his F-15C Eagle went down over the North Sea. He was 27. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Allen, a Utah native, had been assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing at the Royal Air Force’s Lakenheath base since February. He was the assistant chief of weapons and tactics for the 493rd Fighter Squadron.

The wing had been running training exercises over the North Sea in conjunction with NATO allies.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lt. Allen, and mourn with his family and his fellow Reapers in the 493rd Fighter Squadron,” said Col. Will Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing commander. “The tremendous outpouring of love and support from our communities has been a ray of light in this time of darkness.’’

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted his condolences Tuesday, calling Allen a man “dedicated to making a difference in the world,” one who “kept his virtue through both triumph and disaster.

“His truly unique and altruistic spirit will be greatly missed.”

Allen was an accomplished pilot before he graduated from the academy. As a senior, he helped lead the school’s precision flying team, which flies small propeller planes in intercollegiate competition.

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Allen, whose nickname was “Kage,” is survived by his wife, Hannah Allen, and his parents.

“He is gone. I’m shaking,” his wife posted to Facebook on Monday. “Kage was perfect, never been treated with more love and respect in my life. He was my absolute best friend.”

On Tuesday, she posted a video of him singing Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” indicating that the song was the last he sang for her.

Reed Rasband, a high school friend of Allen’s who served a two-year Mormon mission in Chile with him, recalled him as dedicated and someone who gave “100% of everything he had.”

He recalled Allen, in high school, practically interviewing with a classmate’s dad to take his daughter to a dance.

“He borrowed his dad’s (Air Force dress blue) uniform, took a portfolio — which probably had his application for the academy, a letter of recommendation from a congressman, family pictures — and showed up at this girl’s house to meet her father — for a silly high school dance,” he said.

“Needless to say, he was allowed to go.”

The memory reflects the way Allen approached all tasks, Rasband said.

“His whole life he knew what he wanted,” Rasband said. “He put everything he had into everything he did. I saw that in high school, I saw that in the mission field, and when he entered the military, I think he did the same thing. He died living his dream.”

Jerry Miranda, a former Thunderbirds pilot who met Allen while working as the academy’s airport manager, recalled the young pilot as an exemplary cadet who smiled constantly.

“Kage wanted to someday be a Thunderbird, and I always thought he was the right fit,” Miranda said.

“He was well on his way.”

Gazette reporter Tom Roeder and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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