TUOLUMNE COUNTY -- A memorial service is set next week in Tuolumne County for an Air Force pilot from Twain Harte who died in January when his plane went down in the Adriatic Sea.
Lucas Gruenther, 32, died Jan. 28 after his F-16 Fighting Falcon went down during a training mission off the coast of Italy. He was posthumously promoted from captain to major.
Family and friends are planning a service March 17 at 1 p.m. at Summerville High School, where Gruenther graduated. The St. Patrick's Day service is planned as a celebration of life, said Gruenther's brother, Alex, and people are encouraged to wear green, the color of his squadron.
The following week, a funeral with full military honors is planned at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. That will take place at 10:30 a.m. March 22.
Gruenther is survived by his wife, Cassy; and their daughter, Serene, born a week after Gruenther's death; as well as his parents, Romel Mathias and Joseph Malin; his brother and sister-in-law, Alex and Britton Gruenther; his brother, Chance Hildreth; his grandmother Melba Mathias;, and his grandmother Brigitta Gruenther;, as well as several other relatives and friends.
The family requests that donations be made to the Maj. Lucas Gruenther Memorial Fund. This fund provides scholarships for young men and women who emulate his love for life and outgoing positive personality, family members said.
For more information on services or scholarships, go to www.lucasgruenther.com.