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Air Force Fighter Bomber Crashes; Spanish Officials Say Pilot Killed

December 6, 1988

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ A U.S. Air Force fighter bomber crashed Monday while on a routine training mission, and Spanish military officials said the pilot was killed and identified him as an Air Force general.

But an Air Force spokesman said he could not confirm the identity of the pilot nor say whether the pilot survived the crash of the F-16.

Col. Juan Antonio Martinez Ortiz, Spanish Defense Ministry spokesman, identified the pilot at Maj. Gen. W.S. Harpe, commander of the 16th Air Force. He said Harpe was piloting the plane when it crashed and that he was killed.

Martinez said Harpe’s body was found near the crash site.

Sgt. Kenneth Fiddler, Air Force spokesman at Torrejon Air Base, confirmed the crash and said the jet belongs to the 401st Tactical Wing based at Torrejon outside Madrid.

Fiddler said the jet crashed at about 6:45 p.m. near the town of Chiloeches in Guadalajara province, 18 miles northeast of the base.

He said however he could not immediately confirm the identity of the pilot or say whether he ejected safely.

According to an official U.S. Air Force biography, Winfield Scott Harpe was born Jan. 12, 1937, in Thomaston, Ga.

He began his initial flying duty in KC-135 mid-air refueling aircraft at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and trained on F-105 fighter aircraft.

In 1966 and 1967 he was assigned to the U.S. Air Force 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand and flew 100 combat missions over North Vietnam.

He was promoted to the rank of major general in July 1984.

In October 1986 Harpe was named asstistant deputy chief of staff for personnel for the U.S. Air Force in Washington and in July 1987 was named commander of the 16th Air Force at Torrejon.

The United States and Spain signed an agreement in Madrid last week that calls for the 401st Tactical Wing to leave Torrejon by 1990 and transfer to an air base in Crotone, Italy.

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