I first met Lt Col Morris “Moose” Fontenot, Jr about two years ago. My squadron, the 7th Fighter Squadron at the time, was deployed to the Middle East where we were doing some good work with the 67th Fighter Squadron “Fightin’ Cocks” of which Moose was the commander. Moose made in an immediate impression on me. The first time I met him was very briefly in passing, but the next time he saw me, he called me by name without looking at my name tag (I, unfortunately, had to steal a quick glance at his name tag while cursing myself for not being better at remembering names!)
On August 27, 2014, Moose perished when the F-15C he was flying crashed near Deerfield Valley, VA.
Moose was the kind of fighter pilot that young fighter pilots look up to. I was a captain at the time and remember being impressed with the way Moose interacted with those around him. He was a strong leader, a capable fighter pilot, and what we in the community call a “fast burner”. He was going somewhere. But he treated everyone around him as if they were his best friend and equal.
Although Moose was an instructor in the F-15C, he could teach an F-22 pilot a thing or two about air combat. I remember one particular training sortie I flew as a newly minted Air-to-Air Package Commander. Moose was the F-15C flight lead and part of the package I was leading. I don’t remember much about the sortie except that at the end we all ran out of fuel at the same time and ended up all going to the tanker at the same time while Red Air was wrecking house in the lane we had just simultaneously vacated.
In the debrief Moose could tell I was ticked off at myself for not managing the package’s fuel and tanker flow better. When I was done debriefing the air-to-air players, Moose took me aside and gave me some much needed encouragement. He could tell that I figured out where my mistakes were made, and instead of dwelling on them, he pointed out some mistakes he had made, which helped me understand more about integrating with different airframes. I remember leaving the debrief that night feeling excited to go fly again and to implement the lessons Moose had discretely taught me.
It’s been amazing to see the fighter pilot community come together to support Moose’s family and show their respect Lt Col Fontenot. A fundraiser has been established to help raise money for Moose’s daughter to go to college. If you would like to participate, please visit the Booster site here: https://www.booster.com/moosetshirt
Although he’s gone, he’s not forgotten. His squadron painted his parking spot at this deployed desert location by marking it with a Moose Crossing sign. The painted spot, although faded from two years of desert abuse, remains a tribute to this great fighter pilot. America needs to know more about these amazing people who give up their time and endure harsh deployments, long work days, and lots of moves to ensure our national security.
Moose was a rockstar in life – wherever he is now, he’s sure to be making an impression on someone. Rest in peace brother!