Anchorage-based airman dies working on fighter jet at JBER

a fighter jet
An F-22 Raptor prepares for takeoff at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Jan. 7, 2023. (From U.S. Air Force)

A U.S. Air Force airman new to Alaska died in a “workplace incident” Friday while performing maintenance on a fighter jet at Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, according to military officials.

an airman
Air Force Staff Sgt. Charles Crumlett, in a Facebook photo released by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson officials. (From U.S. Air Force)

Staff Sgt. Charles Crumlett, a 25-year-old weapons load crew chief, was working on an F-22 Raptor when he died, base officials said.

Air Force Capt. Lexi Buckley declined to release additional information about what happened, saying Crumlett’s death remains under investigation. No one else was injured during the incident, she said.

According to the Air Force, Crumlett was originally from Streamwood, Ill. and became an airman in 2016. He had just arrived on Feb. 4 at JBER, where he was assigned to the base’s 90th Fighter Generation Squadron. During his six years as a crew chief, he worked on F-15 Strike Eagles and A-10 Warthogs as well as F-22 Raptors.

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A JBER airman prepares an F-22 Raptor weapons bay during a 2021 weapons load crew competition. (From U.S. Air Force)

The Raptor, the Air Force’s principal stealth fighter, carries missiles and bombs in internal storage bays. The bays are covered by doors designed to protect the Raptor from being detected on radar by quickly opening and closing in combat.

Base officers remembered Crumlett in an Air Force statement on Monday, noting both his passion and his dedication to his comrades.

“Today, the Dicemen mourn the loss of one of our own,” said Lt. Col. Charles Bayne, the commander of Crumlett’s unit. “Sgt. Crumlett’s drive and willingness to help his fellow maintainers is a loss for the entire maintenance community. Though he was only with us a short time, Charlie will always be a Diceman. We send our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and the entire maintenance community.”

JBER’s 3rd Wing paused operations on Friday after Crumlett’s death. The base’s 90th and 525th Fighter Squadrons and their support units, including Crumlett’s, stood down in his memory on Monday.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Chris here.

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