Staff Sergeant Afton Ponce, nee Thornton, who died in the Cley helicopter crash, was from a military family.

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Staff Sergeant Afton Ponce, nee Thornton, who died in the Cley helicopter crash, was from a military family.

According to an obituary for her father, Therien, who was a Marine who served in Vietnam, her brother Ethan served in the army and her brother Ivan served in the Marine Corps. She also had two sisters, Erin and Leah, and was married to Andy Ponce.

The 28-year-old, grew up in Priest River, North Idaho, graduating from River Lamanna High School in 2003.

She graduated from Airman Leadership School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in 2010.

Speaking to the families of the airmen, Colonel Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said: “As a husband and father myself I cannot imagine how heartbroken you must feel, now missing a piece of your family. On behalf of the whole wing, I would like to say that we are thinking of you, we are praying for you and we’re here for you.”

He praised the work of the air crew, whose job was “to go anywhere and do anything to save lives.”

“There will be someone having breakfast with their families this morning, with their loved ones, and the members of this crew will have helped make that happen by doing their job and saving their lives,” he added.

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