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Defenders remember the life, service of Senior Airman Phan

Members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron salute during Senior Airman Jason “Khai” Phan’s memorial service at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Oct. 16. During the ceremony, wingmen remembered the fallen Airman, who died in a non-combat incident Sept. 12 while serving overseas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

Members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron salute during Senior Airman Jason “Khai” Phan’s memorial service at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Oct. 16. During the ceremony, wingmen remembered the fallen Airman, who died in a non-combat incident Sept. 12 while serving overseas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

Chief Master Sgt. Justin Geers, 66th Security Forces Squadron manager, salutes a folded flag at the base during a memorial ceremony for Senior Airman Jason “Khai” Phan at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Oct. 16. The service was hosted to commemorate the life and service of Phan, who died in a non-combat related accident while serving overseas Sept. 12. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

Chief Master Sgt. Justin Geers, 66th Security Forces Squadron manager, salutes a folded flag at the base during a memorial ceremony for Senior Airman Jason “Khai” Phan at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Oct. 16. The service was hosted to commemorate the life and service of Phan, who died in a non-combat related accident while serving overseas Sept. 12. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

Members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron salute during Senior Airman Jason “Khai” Phan’s memorial service at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Oct. 16. During the ceremony, wingmen remembered the fallen Airman, who died in a non-combat incident Sept. 12 while serving overseas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

Senior Airman Carlos Howard, 66th Security Forces Squadron, speaks during Senior Airman Jason “Khai” Phan’s memorial service at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Oct. 16, as Senior Airman Joel Bell looks on. During the ceremony, both Howard and Bell shared how Phan had impacted them personally as a wingman and friend. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Members of the 66th Security Forces Squadron gathered to commemorate the life and service of Senior Airman Jason “Khai” Phan during a memorial ceremony here Oct. 16.

Phan, 26, of Anaheim, California, was killed while serving overseas in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Sept. 12, and has been remembered by his wingman as an unwavering example of inspiration, commitment and optimism.

Senior Airmen Joel Bell and Carlos Howard, close friends of Phan, spoke during the live-streamed ceremony.

“Khai was ambitious, and he wanted more than what was promised to him; more knowledge, friendship, love, and he fought for all those things,” said Bell, a 66 SFS defender. “His ambition for love and true friendship will never cease to amaze me.”

Howard, also a member of SFS, read from a poem that he felt best captured his grief for his friend.

“Do not cry for me today, I would not want it this way,” he said. “Cherish life and love, as I watch you from above.”

Phan was dedicated to his career as a defender, but his passion was working with military working dogs, his wingmen said. He was scheduled to attend the MWD Handler Course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland following his deployment, and was posthumously recognized as a graduate.

Earlier this month, senior squadron leaders dedicated the 66 SFS military working dog training grounds to Phan, officially naming it the “SrA Phan Obedience Yard.”

During the ceremony, Phan’s squadron commander described him as a trustworthy and meticulous troop who never missed an opportunity to learn or support his wingmen.

“He was a gentleman, a true patriot and a loyal friend, and I believe we’re all stronger people for knowing him,” said Maj. Shane Watts, 66 SFS commander. “He will always be a part of this family, and will always have a place in our hearts.”

Phan was posthumously awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for honorable service from April 17, 2018, to Sept. 12, 2020. Following the ceremony, 66 SFS members recognized his end of watch.

“I hope to live up to your character in my lifetime, and I’m encouraged by the thought that you stand shoulder to shoulder with those who sacrificed before you,” said Watts, as a message to Phan. “You are, and forever will be, missed.”

Col. Katrina Stephens, installation commander, asked those in attendance and thousands watching a Facebook Live broadcast of the event to continue supporting one another and to reach out for help if needed.

“Today, we take another step to heal our hearts and reflect on the impacts Airman Phan made on each of us, and our Air Force,” she said.