Memorial honors Donnie R. Holland, WSO KIA

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kimberly Barrera

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – A memorial honoring Lt. Col. Donnie R. Holland was put on display June 15, 2022, in the lobby of the Donnie R. Holland Mission Training Center, which houses the F-15E Strike Eagle simulators at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Lt. Col. Donnie R. Holland, former 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron weapons systems officer, lost his life during a bombing mission over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.

“I am very proud that the building was named after my uncle,” said (Ret.) Lt. Col. Craig Holland. “The determination given to get the memorial accurate shows that people still care and that does not go unnoticed.”

Donnie and his pilot, Maj. Thomas F. Koritz, whom the 4th Medical Group Clinic is named after, took part in the first wave of attacks during Operation Desert Storm on January 17, 1991. Holland and Koritz did not return after their mission and were initially listed as missing in action.

“He was a highly experienced aviator and a family man with children,” said (Ret.) Lt. Col. David Klinkicht, Canadian Aviation Enterprise civilian contractor at Seymour Johnson AFB. “We were in the same squadron during Desert Storm; going into war together we were all brothers. At first, we thought they were shot down and held prisoner. The families didn’t know if they were alive and it was really hard. As aviators, we don’t always think about the impact it has on families and what goes through their minds.”

Donnie made the ultimate sacrifice and it’s important for the new generation of Airmen to know who paved the way, added Scott Sitterson, F-15E Aircrew Training Devices contracting officer’s representative.

“My uncle inspired me to become a pilot,” said Craig. “He would tell me stories about his career and assignments and I was always fascinated by them. After he was killed in action in Iraq, I was more determined than ever to serve and do my part. I saw how much his sacrifice throughout his career inspired others and impacted the lives of so many people. I wanted to be a part of something like that; something bigger than myself.”

Donnie’s family supported this project by supplying a photo, taken in the 1980s, when he was a Capt. flying the F-4 Phantom II. In addition to the photo and a description of Donnie’s service, a quote from George S. Patton Jr. reads, “Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived.”

My uncle instilled in me that anything worth doing is worth giving everything you have,” added Craig.

The memorial of Lt. Col. Donnie R. Holland is displayed inside the building to ensure his sacrifice is never forgotten and to continue to inspire people.