Ribas-Dominicci, Fernando L., Maj

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1983-1986, 48th Tactical Fighter Wing
Service Years
1974 - 1986
Foreign Language(s)

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sgt Mark Bartovick to remember Ribas-Dominicci, Fernando L., Maj.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Utuado, PR
Last Address
RAF Lakenheath, UK

Casualty Date
Apr 15, 1986
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Mediterranean Sea
Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya)
Location of Interment
Cementerio San Andres - Utuado, Puerto Rico
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
In the Line of Duty
  1986, In the Line of Duty

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Aviator (Senior)

 Unit Assignments
4427th Tactical Fighter Replacement Squadron48th Tactical Fighter Wing
  1974-1975, 4427th Tactical Fighter Replacement Squadron
  1983-1986, 48th Tactical Fighter Wing
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1986-1986 Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya)
 Colleges Attended 
University of Puerto Rico, MayaguezEmbry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  1970-1974, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
  1984-1985, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
 My Aircraft/Missiles
F-111 Aardvark  
  1985-1986, F-111 Aardvark3
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Major Ribas-Dominicci was born in the town of Utuado, located in the mountains of Puerto Rico where he received his primary and secondary education. As a child, he had always dreamed of becoming a pilot and after he graduated from high school, he entered the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez where he earned his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. As a student in the university, he was a member of the ROTC program and upon graduation was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

He was assigned to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, where he received advanced training as an F-111 combat pilot. By 1983, Ribas-Dominicci was a Captain and the recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal. In 1985, he completed his M.S. degree in Aeronautical Science at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Major Fernando L. Ribas-Dominicci (pilot) and Captain Paul Lorence (Weapons System Operator) were killed in a combat operations mission on 14-15/ April 1986 over Libya as part of "Operation El Dorado Canyon". They were flying in their F-111F (#70-2389), call sign "Karma-52" when they were shot down and crashed into the Mediterranean. Their bodies were picked up by fishermen. Only the major's body was returned, Captain Lorence remains MIA.

Major Ribas-Dominicci was interred in San Andreas De Utuado Cemetery,  Utuado, Puerto Rico, USA.

Operation El Dorado Canyon Main article: Operation El Dorado Canyon "A 48th Tactical Fighter Wing F-111F being prepared for takeoff on 14 April 1986 at RAF Lakenheath By the mid 1980s the "Red Scare" was not the only American fear for national security; terrorists struck targets from bombing of US Marines in Beirut to Berlin, from Rome to Rotterdam. Some of these attacks were attributed to the Libyan government headed by Colonel Mohmar Qaddafi. In retaliation, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered a strike against targets in Tripoli, which were carried out by the United States Navy Sixth Fleet and F-111s of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing. The F-111Fs from Lakenheath were chosen for their capability to fly long distances and deliver laser-guided munitions with great accuracy.

At approximately 19:00 the evening of 14 April 1986, 24 F-111Fs departed Lakenheath's runway, six of which were airborne spares in the event malfunctions forced any of the primary aircraft to abort. In flights of four, aircrews flew south through the Straits of Gibraltar and began their orchestrated attack shortly after midnight on 15 April. They were targeted on Azziziyah Barracks, the Sidi Balal terrorist training camp, and Tripoli Airport. With the sky lit up from Tripoli's city lights, anti-aircraft tracers, and brilliant surface to air missile detonations, determined 48th TFW crews unleashed 60 tons of munitions, damaging their targets. In spite of the mission's success, the Wing experienced a major loss. As the strike force recovered at Lakenheath, both air and ground crews were given the somber news that Major Fernando Ribas (Utuado, Puerto Rico) pilot, and Weapons System Operator, Captain Paul Lorence, were missing.

The grueling 14-hour flight took its toll. "Those guys were so fatigued, the crew chiefs literally had to pull some of the crews out of the cockpits," recalled CMSgt Richard O'Shaughnessy, then a Master Sergeant and weapons flight supervisor. "Most of them actually lost several pounds from sweating so much. When the guys pulled their helmets off, sweat literally poured down their foreheads and necks".

On 8 September 1986, US Navy Secretary John Lehman personally presented the Navy's Meritorious Unit Commendation to the 48th TFW for its participation in the operation. The 48th TFW is the only Air Force unit to have received this prestigious award. Likewise, General Charles Donnelly, Commander-in-Chief, USAFE, visited RAF Lakenheath on 17 February 1987 and presented decorations to those who participated in the operation. The ceremony ended with a presentation to Captain Lorence's widow Diane, followed by a missing man flyover.

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