Mountain Home airman whose body recovered from Bruneau Canyon identified

November 24, 2013 

The body was recovered at about 1 p.m. Monday by the Owyhee County Sheriff's Office and the crew of an Idaho National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, Mountain Home Air Force Base officials reported.

The airman - identified Monday night as Airman 1st Class Alexander L. Van Meter, 22, of Herscher, Ill., died during a hike Sunday in Owyhee County's Bruneau Canyon.

Airbase officials believe the man died from a fall, but the official cause of death is still under investigation. Search and rescue units were notified of the fall by another airman who had been hiking with the man.

Owyhee County Coroner Aaron Tines said he was notified at about 5 p.m. Sunday by the sheriff's office about a death in Bruneau Canyon. Fading light and other safety concerns forced teams to postpone recovery efforts until Monday.

“We lost a valued member of the Gunfighter family,” said 366th Fighter Wing commander Col. Chris Short in a news release. "This is a tragic event and our hearts go out to our Airman’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Van Meter, is survived by his father, Leroy, and his mother, Sherry La Payne.

He served as an Electro-environmental technician with the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents and brother during this difficult time,” Lt. Col Jeremy Saunders, 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, said. “It’s with great sorrow that we mourn the loss of a mighty maintainer, team member and friend.”

In April 2010, an airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base lost his footing and tumbled into Bruneau Canyon. His companion had to run 11 miles to call for help. The ensuing rescue effort took several hours. That airman, who suffered a lacerated liver, punctured lungs, an open leg fracture, a chipped heel and head injuries, survived the fall.

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