Clarence alumnus ('01) Mark Spence was killed in a plane crash in northern Italy last week. From WIVB:
"Staff Sgt Mark Spence was an extraordinary leader and soon to be father for the first time. The 24 year old Clarence native had been treated to a ride on a blackhawk helicopter because of his exemplary work repairing hi-tech sensors used on fighter jets. But the chopper suddenly malfunctioned and crashed Thursday near Mark's airbase in Aviano, Italy."From the Buffalo News:
"Spence graduated from Clarence High School in 2001, completed a year's study at the University at Buffalo, and then joined the Air Force in 2003."I'm tremendously proud of my son and the job he was doing," his father, Mark T. Spence, said today.
His maternal grandfather, Donald Rhoads, who died in January, helped design airplanes and led to Sgt. Spence's enlistment, his father said.
He is survived by his wife, Elena (Ward); his parents, Mark T. Spence and Kim Rhoads-Spence; and two brothers, Robert and Michael."
The obituary from the Buffalo News:
Dec. 11, 1982 — Nov. 8, 2007
From the athletics tracks in the Clarence Central School District to the way he accelerated through the ranks with the U.S. Air Force, Mark A. Spence lived life at a fast pace.
Staff Sgt. Spence died Nov. 8 in Treviso, Italy, of injuries suffered in a military helicopter crash. He was 24.
Born in Buffalo, Sgt. Spence attended school in Clarence, where he went from being the fastest runner in an elementary school track meet to competition with the cross country and football teams at Clarence High School.
He graduated from Clarence High in 2001. After studying briefly at the University at Buffalo, he joined the Air Force in 2003.
Sgt. Spence completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, then attended electronics and avionics technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., earning an associate degree in avionics systems technology. He also was recognized for his leadership abilities.
Sgt. Spence quickly rose through the ranks and was an avionics sensors team leader, heading a crew of eight that maintained weapons guidance and navigational systems for F- 15 and F-16 fighter jets.
A member of the 31st Fighter Wing, Sgt. Spence had been stationed at the Aviano, Italy, Air Base since January 2004. Scheduled to return home in January, he planned to take the New York State Police exam. He was studying for a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Park University, where he maintained a 4.0 grade point average.
Sgt. Spence also enjoyed photography and travel.
Survivors include his wife, the former Elena Ward, who is expecting the couple’s first child next spring; his parents, Mark T. and Kim; two brothers, Robert and Michael; and his grandmothers, Evelyn Rhoads and Alice.
Services, with full military honors, will be held at 9 p.m.today in Amigone Funeral Home, 8440 Main St., Clarence.
The notice from the Buffalo News:
Published in the Buffalo News from 11/17/2007 - 11/19/2007. Guest Book • Funeral home info • Flowers • Charities