SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE — A makeshift memorial to Air Force Capt. Brandon L. Cyr, 28, took shape late Monday morning not far from the headquarters of the 126th Air Refueling Wing, where Cyr had served as executive officer.
Bouquets of roses, rows of small American flags, a hand-lettered sign with messages of farewell -- all paid tribute to a man recalled for his outgoing and selfless nature, and to a life cut short when the surveillance plane he was piloting in Afghanistan crashed, killing him and three Air Force crew members.
Lt. Col. Doug Edwards, commander of the 906th Air Refueling Squadron, the active duty unit Cyr was assigned to when he came to Scott, called Cyr "a high-skilled pilot" with "an incredible attention to detail."
Edwards also described Cyr, who was single, as "a larger-than-life figure" who worked tirelessly with local youth groups and was a friend to all.
"He loved being a mentor and a friend," Edwards said.
Cyr, an experienced KC-135 air tanker pilot, had volunteered to serve as pilot of an MC-12 surveillance aircraft in southern Afghanistan late last year, and began serving there in early 2013, said Col. Pete Nezamis, the 126th Air Refueling Wing's commander.
"He said, 'I want to do something that is close to the action,'" Nezamis recalled.
Cyr, whose hometown was listed as Woodbridge, Va., and three other air crew members died early Saturday morning in the province of Zabul, about 110 miles northeast of Kandahar Airfield. The four were assigned to the 306th Intelligence Squadron at Beale Air Force, Calif., from which the MC-12 was deployed, the Air Force Times reported.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, though initial reports indicated there were no signs of enemy activity when the crash occurred.