Navy colleagues mourn pilot who died with three daughters

FALLON — A Navy officer killed along with three of his daughters in a May 22 small plane crash in Fallon was remembered as a gentleman and a role model at a military funeral Saturday.

About 800 people paid tribute to Cmdr. Luther Harold Hook III, 44, during the emotional service at Naval Air Station Fallon, where he was second in command as the base’s executive officer.

Hook and his daughters, Kaitlyn, 15, Rachel, 12, and Mackenzie, 9, were killed when his twin-engine Cessna 320 crashed near Fallon Municipal Airport about 60 miles east of Reno.

He had flown to Fresno, Calif., to pick up his daughters and bring them to Fallon for the weekend. The girls lived with their mother and stepfather in Clovis, Calif.

Retired Capt. Bert Speir recalled how he became a mentor to Hook while Hook was attending the U.S. Naval Academy and Speir was an officer there.

“He was always a gentleman, a true Southern gentleman,” Speir recalled. “He was a role model for his love of his country, the Navy, his family and his friends.”

Hook, a 1986 graduate of the Naval Academy who went by the nickname “Meat,” received a host of military awards and amassed over 2,700 flight hours in the F/A-18 Hornet.

Capt. Scott Ryder, former commanding officer at the Fallon station, praised Hook’s flying ability and devotion to family.

“Meat Hook, the family man, is one of the ways I’ll choose to remember him,” Ryder said. “The collective heart of naval aviation grieves with the family over the loss of Luke and his girls.”

After a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps, the crowd watched as a formation of four F/A-18s approached. One jet climbed toward the heavens, while the other three jets screamed over the hangar in the “missing man formation.”

Services for Hook’s three daughters are scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Peoples Church in Fresno.

The crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.

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