CPT Anthony "Tony" R. Stefanik, Jr.

Unit: 16th Special Operations Squadron
Age: 31
Home Town: Johnstown, PA
Died On: 03/14/1994

Mr. Speaker, I had a chance a few weeks ago to visit with the family of Anthony Stefanik, Jr., a 31-year-old Air Force captain who was one of seven crewmen to die when their plane crashed during a routine surveillance mission near Somalia.

Anthony was on his second tour of duty in Africa, and had served previously with his brother, Ron, during Desert Storm.

After Operation Desert Storm, he wrote some notes about his experience, and concluded with: "I realized the best thing about being in the military now is we are young, get to fly missions all around the world, meet good friends in unexpected places, and most importantly, we now have one thing in common: we risked our lives for our country in the performance of our duties. I also realized that the enemy never had a chance. They had no idea of the talent, training, and professionalism they encountered."

Anthony symbolized all those qualities, and America is a better country today because of the strength of Anthony and his family.

Besides my own comments, I'd like to also enclose this statement made by Tony's friend, Eric Swank.

"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Captain Anthony R. Stefanik, Jr. was born on 1 October 1962 to Anthony and Donna Stefanik in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Johnstown High School in 1980. In 1984, he graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown earning a B.A. in Accounting. During his high school days, he was active in baseball and karate. He loved to lift weights and it showed.

Tony worked for the accounting firm Barnes and Saly until feeling the calling of service in October 1985. After graduating from Officer Training School in January 1986, he went to Mather AFB to earn his Navigator wings. From there, he went to Castle AFB for B-52 training. His first operational assignment was in B-52Gs on Guam. He arrived there in 1987.

He married his wife Catherine in 1988. The two of them went to Carswell AFB in 1990. While there, they were blessed with a son, Anthony III. Tony came to Hurlburt Field and the AC-130H in June 1992 as a Fire Control Officer.

Tony flew on the last B-52 sortie of Operation Desert Storm. He wrote a short story about his experience. After the bomb run he writes: "As we egressed the area, the radios came alive with the sounds of search and rescue efforts for a downed aircrew." How ironic that just a few years later, the rescue radios would be crackling about him.

A strong man both physically and emotionally, his wife, son, mother, father, brother Ronald, sister Teri, and all who know him will miss him greatly.--Eric Swank, Tony's friend.