Family, friends honor U.S. airman Lt. Colonel Seth Nehring killed in military exercise in Ukraine

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- You can find a celebration on tap in Clovis as dozens raised a glass for their fallen hero, Lt. Col. Seth Nehring of the 144th Fighter Wing.

It was October 16 when the 44-year-old pilot was killed in a joint military operation when his SU-27 crashed in Ukraine during Operation Clear the Sky 2018.

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"We appreciate the letters from people we don't know, who my son didn't know," said Julie Smith, Lt. Col. Nehring's mother.

Parents Julie and Butch Smith say they've received letters from all over the world and the overwhelming show of support still brings tears to their eyes.

"We always knew we had a great kid, a fine young man, but its wonderful to see all the people loved him as much as we did," Julie Smith said.

They say they know more about their son now than they ever did, thanks to his friends sharing their special moments together.

"He was so humble and that's part of what i loved about the boy," said Butch Smith.

"Never a part of the spotlight, he wanted to be the guy behind the scenes that made it happen got the job done and mission accomplished," said Luke Campagne with the 144th Fighter Wing.

Nehring was a member of the 144th Fighter Wing family for almost 25 years.

Fondly known as Jethro, the Clovis High School grad began his career as a crew chief before being selected for a pilot slot flying the F-16 Viper then the F-15 Eagle.

He was set to retire in January 2019.

A memorial now hangs in Tactical Ops Brewery to honor his service.

"We chose to hang it here and all the friends and family members that aren't military members get to come see it," Campagne said.

That memorial will stay on display Wednesday through Sunday so you can get the chance to honor Nehring when you visit.
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