James Traficante: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

103rd Airlift Wing  Chief Master Sergeant James Traficante is a Connecticut Air National Guard command chief who is being hailed as a hero for saving lives after a devastating vintage World War II-era B-17 bomber crash at the Bradley International Airport that left seven people dead and others injured  Traficante, 54, was a passenger on the vintage plane and used his military and firefighting experience to help others after the B-17 crashed into a building at the airport Traficante overcame his own injuries to save others, authorities said. Along with his service in the National Guard, Traficante is a former East Providence Fire Department lieutenant and has been a member of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Department for the past five years  On Wednesday morning, October 2, a B-17 World War II aircraft that was part of the Wings of Freedom Tour crashed into a de-icing facility after having problems with the instrument landing system, WTNH reported Ten passengers, two crew members, and an attendant were on the plane when it crashed At least seven people were killed.1. The Air National Guard Command Chief Saved Several People During the Crash Chief Master Sgt James Traficante, an Air National Guard Command Chief, has been identified as the man who was a hero and helped save lives during the crash, WWLP reported He’s the current command chief for the 103rd Airlift Wing and a trained C-130 loadmaster, NBC CT reported  Major General Francis J. Evon said he immediately jumped into action to help others Although seven people died, he is credited with helping save some of the passengers on the plane with his quick thinking, WTNH reported  Evon said in a statement: “The Connecticut National Guard is thankful that our Airman on board the aircraft is safe and I ask that you respect his and his family’s privacy as he recovers Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragic accident. We are grateful for our firefighters who responded and who have worked tirelessly in supporting crash and recovery operations The response to the B-17 crash was a joint effort and a great example of state and local municipalities working together We will continue to provide support any way we can.”2. Traficante Popped the Hatch & Helped People Escape Evon told WTNH that the command chief was very familiar with the back of the aircraft, where he was seated during the crash “Our understanding is he popped the hatch and was able to extract some individuals,” he said  “It was very lucky that he had gloves on,” he added. In fact, he had military-issued flame-retardant flight gloves with him, which helped him open the hatch so others could escape, NBC CT noted  The National Guard said in a statement: You can read the full statement below.  Captain Jennifer Pierce identified Traficante to WWLP She said that he was able to open a hatch “allowing other passengers to egress the plane after the crash ”3. Traficante Was Treated for Minor Injuries Traficante suffered minor injuries himself He was taken to Hartford Hospital, treated, and released Wednesday evening. His name wasn’t released right away, as police asked that he not be immediately identified  The NTSB is investigating the crash and looking for physical evidence, including audio recordings, videos, and pictures, WTNH reported Preliminary findings will be released in 10 days. The flames from the crash were so intense that first responders took hours to reach the cockpit, where the pilot and co-pilot were seated Antonio Arreguin, who witnessed the crash, told the Associated Press: “In front of me, I see this big ball of orange fire, and I knew something happened The ball of fire was very big.” Just five minutes after taking off from the Bradley Airport at 9:45 a m. local time, the pilot contacted the tower and asked for permission to land on Runway 6, where they took off It was just shortly after this contact that the plane crashed. The plane was part of the Wings of Freedom Tour 2019, where guests can fly on the B-17 for $450 a person 4. He Has Been Deployed Multiple Times, Including During Desert Shield & Operation Iraqi Freedom Traficante has been deployed multiple times and is highly decorated His rank of chief master sergeant is the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force, to which he was promoted in February 2011 According to his bio with the 103rd Airlift Wing, he served in Volant & Coronet Oak, Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve  He began his service in 1984 as an airlift/bombardment aircraft maintenance specialist   After finishing his active duty tour, he joined the Rhode Island National Guard and was crew chief, flight engineer, and loadmaster He was selected to serve as the 103rd Airlift Wing Command Chief in 2018. His awards and decorations include the Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the NATO Medal 5. Heartbreaking Stories Are Emerging from the Crash  FacebookRobert Riddell posted this photo of the plane on Facebook before takeoff  Heartbreaking stories are emerging from the crash. Debra Riddell, whose husband Robert was among those who tragically perished, wrote a public tribute to her husband on Facebook  She wrote: Eric Whyte, a Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour pilot, was not flying the day of the crash He wrote on Facebook, in part, about one of the pilots: “While on tour several of us would leave the hotel early and ride with Mac in the morning because that meant a Starbucks Run … We both shared the same favorite flavor – Komodo Dragon. He and I had a friendly banter about who’s airplane was better He was a B-17 guy I was a B-24. I’d also him if he wanted to fly the 24 with me and he would joke ‘I don’t want to fly the B-24, I might just learn to like it ’ As a very experienced pilot and mechanic, I often picked his brain about the airplanes and he was happy to help As long as you brought his tools back.  I regret I never took a picture of us flying together ” READ NEXT: Bradley Airport Plane Crash: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

1 thought on “James Traficante: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

  • As they say, "Outstanding!" As a former enlisted aircraft maintainer I know that the Chief had years of training to perform well in this situation.

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