Dover honors fallen hero
By Mauricio Campino
/ Published October 12, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, D -- The Airmen and City of Dover paid a special tribute to a fallen Air Force warrior, Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki, by naming the bridge connecting Dover Air Force Base and family housing, over Route 1 in her honor October 12, 2018. Loncki, explosive ordnance disposal technician, who was born and raised in New Castle County, Delaware, and gave the ultimate sacrifice for her country during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2002, after briefly attending the University of Arizona, Loncki enlisted in the United States Air Force as an explosive ordnance journeyman; a field few women enter. In 2006, she deployed with the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron out of Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to the AL-Mahmudiyah district, south of Baghdad, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Loncki and her team successfully disarmed 129 improvised explosive devices on 194 missions in and around Baghdad. January 7, 2007, just 20 days before she was scheduled to return home from deployment, a vehicle borne IED took the lives of Loncki and three teammates. She was the first woman from Delaware to be killed in action.
The renaming project was facilitated by the Delaware Department of Transportation and spearheaded by Staff Sgt. Johny Hargrove, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance craftsman and Rep. Sean M. Lynn.
“This bridge dedication isn’t about putting a sign on a bridge or a building,” said Hargrove. “It’s about having a physical reminder of Liz’s life and the ultimate sacrifice that she paid for this country. This bridge will serve as a reminder for everyone who enters and leaves Dover Air Force Base, as well as a reminder of the spirit of Senior Airman Loncki.”
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Loncki’s surviving family members, her friends, Team Dover Airmen, unit leaders and local civic leaders. The speakers for the ceremony were Col. Joel Safranek, Commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, Jennifer Cohan, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation, Delaware Governor John Carney, Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, Delaware Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware Veterans Affairs Director Lawrence Kirby and Staff Sgt. Johny Hargrove, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance craftsman.
"We are honored to share in dedicating the bridge, which most of us use on a daily basis, to honor the memory of Senior Airman Elizabeth Loncki,” said Safranek. “She made the ultimate sacrifice for her country, and it is only fitting to have this memorial here at Dover where we return our fallen service members with dignity, honor and respect. I am grateful to be part of this and pleased to see the project come to completion."