LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas— Family, friends, U.S. Congressman Will Hurd, and the Airmen of Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, gathered to remember the life of Capt. John Graziano, an instructor pilot for the 87th Flying Training Squadron, during his memorial Nov. 21, 2018.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, 19th Air Force commander, Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, and Graziano’s parents, Dr. Glenda Snavely and Dr. Thomas Graziano all spoke at the memorial, urging family and friends to remember his life instead of dwelling on his death.
The Laughlin base honor guard presented the colors for the singing of the national anthem, and again at the end of the ceremony during Taps while the 87th FTS flew a missing-man formation over those in attendance, ending the memorial service.
“I didn’t know John personally,” Doherty said. “When I saw pictures of John, I remembered meeting him in a short, by-chance interaction last year. It was a natural, unplanned moment—the kind I like the best. I remember just being impressed with his confidence, personal demeanor and how he possessed a true purpose about who he was and what he was doing with his life.”
According to Gentile, those who had the pleasure of knowing Graziano said he had a radiant personality, and he touched the lives of those around him.
“He showed up to work every with a smile on his face, and—no matter what—he always gave his 100 percent,” Gentile said. “John’s drive was simple. He was passionate about flying, and he believed everyone was important and, despite life’s challenges, everyone should live better than their yesterday.”
Gentile saw Graziano as a model son, a best friend, a dedicated instructor and an outstanding officer in the United States Air Force.
“For all the things John was, he would want to be remembered as an aviator,” Gentile said. “Since he was two, John dreamed of flying—of climbing into a cockpit and taking to the skies. It was what he loved and it’s what made him an Airman.”
Gentile believes it is because of Airmen like Graziano, who play such an integral part in the Air Force, make the Air Force so special.
“A nickel in the grass for Captain John Graziano,” Gentile concluded. “May his passion, love for life and incredible spirit live on with us.”