Missing Twain Harte Air Force pilot

By Union Democrat staff January 29, 2013 10:33 am


Family members of Lucas Gruenther, a 1999 graduate of Summerville High School, confirmed that U.S. and Italian forces are searching for him in the Adriatic Sea after discovering debris thought to be his F-16 plane. 



Gruenther grew up in Twain Harte and graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2003, then rose up through the ranks as an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot.

His plane lost contact with Aviano Air Base in Italy at about 8 p.m. Monday during a nighttime training mission, according to a release from the base, where Gruenther was serving.

The release said search efforts have not yet found any sign of Gruenther, but Italian and U.S. teams are continuing the effort.

Summerville High staff are waiting with “fingers crossed” for an update on Gruenther, said Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy Principal Diana Harford.

Gruenther is a former student of Mitch Heldstab, who brought him to campus last spring to tell students about his experience in the Air Force.

Gruenther married his high school sweetheart, Cassy Williams, also a Summerville High graduate. Williams is expecting the couple’s first child.