(WJBK) - A 33-year-old native of Novi died in a U.S. Air Force training exercise in New Mexico. Captain Andrew Becker was killed Tuesday evening when his plane crashed during the training exercise.
"There have been a couple of times where Andy would call us and just say, 'You're going to hear something on the news,'" said Gary Becker, his father. "'It's not me. I'm fine. It was somebody else.' So, this Wednesday morning, about 2:20 in the morning, when I saw Shelly was calling, I hoped it was that call."
Two others were killed during the routine exercise when their U28A crashed; it was the type of plane the special ops pilot had flown meticulously countless times over the years in missions overseas.
"It was his job to look down and go, there are some bad guys ahead of you, over here, stay away," Gary said.
Andy was the youngest of three, graduating from Novi High School soon after 9/11 in 2002.
"Because of the events, he said, 'I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to go into the Air Force and I'm going to help protect our country against another attack like this,'" Gary said.
He went on to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University before training to become a pilot. His father beams at the man he was.
"His nickname as a pilot in the Air Force was Laugher because he laughed robustly," Gary said. "Heaven just got a little bit more loud and earth just got a little bit quieter, because he moved his laughter up a bit."
Becker was deployed at least eight times, many of his missions kept secret. Troops on the ground depended on his eyes in the sky to direct them.
"He said, we'd hear your son's call sign up there and go, ok, we're in good shape," Gary said. "And to have seal team members say that, you get an idea of what he did and how important it was."
Investigators are now reviewing maintenance records for the plane, though they say there were no indications of any issues.
Becker leaves behind two nephews, a niece and a wife of six years.
"I guess the thing I've been thinking about is, if you have a lot of people and stand very close together, nobody can fall down," Gary said.
Capt. Becker and his family are very well known to the Novi school district and the community, the superintendent saying on behalf of the district, their hearts go out to the family.