Air Force Capt. Brandon Cyr, a member of the 906th Air Refueling Squadron, based at Scott Air Force Base, was known as a pilot’s pilot, a by-the-book aviator with a zest for life and a hatred for vegetables.
Cyr’s life and career have been memorialized with the dedication of the base theater at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The base’s top officers held a memorial event on April 27 to rename the theater as Independence Hall in remembrance of Cyr and three other members of an MC-12 Liberty surveillance plane aircrew that crashed in Afghanistan on April 27, 2013.
Cyr, 28, of Shiloh, the commander of the spy plane with a call sign of Independence 08, had volunteered for training on the MC-12, a twin-engine turbo-prop plane that the Air Force, with great success, has converted into a high-tech spy plane able to spot enemy fighters in all kinds of terrain and weather in Afghanistan. Stationed at Scott and living in Shiloh, Cyr had been loaned out to the 306th Intelligence Squadron at Beale, near Sacramento, Calif.
Also honored during the dedication were Cyr’s crewmates: Capt. Reid K. Nishizuka, the pilot; and Staff Sgt. Richard A. Dickson and Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin, the spy plane’s sensor operators, according to a Beale press statement.
“The crew of Independence 08 in the quest to uphold freedom, liberty and justice, paid the ultimate sacrifice in their endeavors,” said Master Sgt. Ilyas Asaddullah, 306th Intelligence Squadron superintendent, in the statement. “We will never forget their names, faces, smiles, their leadership and the courage they displayed while acting upon their oaths.”
Family, friends, and fellow airmen gathered at the newly dedicated Independence Hall to mourn and celebrate the lives of the MC-12 crew, followed by a luncheon at the Recce Point Club, according to a Beale press statement.
“Freedom comes through the Airman, the Sailor, the Soldier, the Marine, who willingly took an oath to support and defend the constitution of this nation,” said Chaplain Michael Goecker, 9th Reconnaissance Wing Chaplain Corps. “Freedom comes from the vigilance of the watchman on the wall, freedom comes from the willingness of these same men and women to take up arms and defend it.”
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a graphical representation of the plaque that will be permanently mounted at the entrance of Independence Hall and an artist’s rendering of the memorial that will be in front of Independence Hall.
Battlefield commanders in Afghanistan regarded the MC-12W as a godsend. In 2012, the program accounted for 73 percent of all intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights in Afghanistan. It was credited with the killing and capture of more than 700 enemy fighters, and was credited with a success rate of 99.96 percent, or in other words, virtually every “time a ground force commander expected to have an MC-12W overhead, it was there,” according to the crash investigation report.