Face of Defense: Pilot Carries Father’s Legacy Forward
By Sonic Johnson
14th Flying Training Wing
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss., Aug. 23, 2013 When Air Force 2nd Lt. Jon Koritz graduated from undergraduate pilot training here Aug. 16, he joined a long list of military aviators, including his late father, Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Tom Koritz, one of six pilot-physicians flying in the Air Force at the time.
Air Force Col. Billye Hutchison, left, poses for a photo with Air Force 2nd Lt. Jon Koritz and his mother, Julianne Koritz, outside the Koritz Clinic at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., Aug. 3, 2013. The clinic was renamed in 2008 in honor of Maj. (Dr.) Thomas Koritz, an Air Force physician-pilot and father of the lieutenant, who was killed in action during the second night of combat in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Hutchinson is the 14th Medical Group commander at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., where Koritz graduated from undergraduate pilot training later in the month. U.S. Air Force photo by Sonic Johnson
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Koritz’s father was killed in action on the second night of combat during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 while flying an F-15E Strike Eagle. He was survived by his wife, Julianne, and three sons: Tim, Jon and Scott.
"To walk across this stage, the same stage my father walked across with class 82-01 to receive his wings, is a very special moment for me and my family," Koritz said.
Koritz graduated in 2008 from East Carolina University and entered the business world in North Carolina, but he still harbored a passion for aviation. His girlfriend and his soon-to-be father-in-law, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Lofgren, encouraged his pursuit and his eventual acceptance to Officer Training School in 2011.
The lieutenant rapidly learned how small the Air Force is when he reported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, after OTS for pre-flight medical screening. The physician for his physical had served as a flight surgeon in the 4th Medical Group at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., with Koritz's father.
Koritz was joined by his wife, his mother, his brothers and other family members and friends Aug. 2, when the members of class 13-13 received their assignments. Sixteen friends and family members were on hand to see Koritz's excitement when he received his assignment to the F-15E Strike Eagle.
Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Tom Travis, the Air Force surgeon general, delivered the keynote address to the newly minted aviators during the ceremony. Travis, like Koritz’s father, is an Air Force pilot-physician.
The lieutenant’s mother, Julianne Koritz, said she is proud of her son’s accomplishment and predicted that his passion for aviation will take him far.
"This is both bittersweet and difficult," she said. "The solace of this moment is that I have never seen Jon happier. … He was meant to be an Air Force aviator."
This support from his loved ones was especially important, Koritz said.
"I am just fortunate to have this opportunity," he said. "It would have never happened without the love and support of my family and friends."