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Tribute to fallen

Team MacDill members paid tribute to Maj. Raymond Estelle, a former 6th Communications Squadron chief of maintenance, by participating in the 6th annual 5K run and weightlifting competition here, Jan. 31, 2020.

Raymond Estelle III, leads a formation run during the 7th Annual Estelle 5K run at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 31, 2020. The 6th Communications Squadron has hosted a 5K run and weightlifting challenge to honor Maj. Raymond Estelle II, who was one of nine Americans tragically killed during a shooting incident in Afghanistan in 2011. Raymond honored his father’s life by leading the formation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

Team MacDill members paid tribute to Maj. Raymond Estelle, a former 6th Communications Squadron chief of maintenance, by participating in the 6th annual 5K run and weightlifting competition here, Jan. 31, 2020.

Lt. Col. N’Keiba Estelle, the 6th Communications Squadron commander, hugs her son, Raymond, during the 7th annual Estelle 5K run at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 31, 2020. The 6th CS has hosted a 5K run and weightlifting challenge to honor Maj. Raymond Estelle II, who was one of nine Americans tragically killed during a shooting incident in Afghanistan in 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

Team MacDill members paid tribute to Maj. Raymond Estelle, a former 6th Communications Squadron chief of maintenance, by participating in the 6th annual 5K run and weightlifting competition here, Jan. 31, 2020.

Lt. Col. N’Keiba Estelle, the 6th Communications Squadron commander, along with her children, Raymond and Shayla, dedicate a flag in honor of Maj. Raymond Estelle II at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 31, 2020. Maj. Estelle was one of nine Americans tragically killed during a shooting incident in an Afghanistan airport in 2011. To honor his passion for physical fitness, the 6th CS hosts an annual 5K run and weightlifting challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

Team MacDill members paid tribute to Maj. Raymond Estelle, a former 6th Communications Squadron chief of maintenance, by participating in the 6th annual 5K run and weightlifting competition here, Jan. 31, 2020.

Members of the 6th Air Refueling Wing run in formation during the 7th annual Estelle 5K at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 31, 2020. The 6th Communications Squadron hosts an annual 5K run and weightlifting challenge to honor their former chief of maintenance, Maj. Raymond Estelle II, who was tragically killed in Afghanistan in 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

Team MacDill members paid tribute to Maj. Raymond Estelle, a former 6th Communications Squadron chief of maintenance, by participating in the 6th annual 5K run and weightlifting competition here, Jan. 31, 2020.

Raymond and Shayla Estelle provide opening remarks before the 7th annual Estelle 5K run at MacDill Air Force Base Fla., Jan. 31, 2020. Shayla and Raymond’s father, Maj. Raymond Estelle II, was one of nine Americans tragically killed during a shooting incident in an Afghanistan airport. To honor his passion for physical fitness, the 6th Communications Squadron hosts an annual 5K run and weightlifting challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Team MacDill members paid tribute to Maj. Raymond Estelle, a former 6th Communications Squadron chief of maintenance, by participating in the 6th annual 5K run and weightlifting competition here, Jan. 31, 2020.

“I think our Air Force creed sums him up best- wingman, leader, warrior,” reflected Lt. Col. N’Keiba Estelle, 6th CS commander, when asked about her husband. “He was always willing to help fix a problem, to listen to you and always willing to bring a smile to everybody’s face, whether that was dancing around the house or just helping out as a husband and father.”

In 2011, Maj. Raymond Estelle deployed as the communications advisor for the Afghanistan Air Force during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Shortly after his arrival, Estelle and eight others, were tragically killed during a shooting in an Afghanistan airport.

Estelle met her husband’s remains on the MacDill flightline, where 10 years before, they began their life together as husband and wife.

Today, Estelle is wrapping up the final year of her command with the 6th CS.

“It was very meaningful to come back to MacDill,” she said. “It feels like coming home. Being in this building makes you proud to have the name Estelle, it makes me want to do the best job I absolutely can.”

This year’s run and weightlifting competition will be the seventh year the 6th CS has hosted this event.

“Unit personnel and leadership at the time, felt this was the best way to recognize Ray and everything that he stood for as an Airman, especially since he was a huge physical fitness advocate,” said Estelle. “For me, this event represents all nine heroes who lost their lives and it allows us to take that time out of our day to pay tribute to them on a larger scale.”

This year, Shayla and Raymond Estelle accompanied their mother on her final run as commander and witnessed the influence left by their father.

“It was amazing to see everyone out here running to remember my dad,” Shayla said. “I’m so proud to see the impact he has on people to this day.”

Every day, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Guardsmen and civilians travel across the world securing the safety and freedom of America and its allies. Sometimes they leave for days and sometimes for months at a time.  No matter the time away, it is important to always remember them and those who have fallen.  

“It is an honor to participate in the annual event and remember Maj. Estelle,” said Senior Airman Jennifer Mackey Acosta, 6th CS Airman. “Working under Lt. Col. Estelle’s command has been nothing short of amazing. She is passionate about the Air Force and has a genuine concern for each one of us. We will miss her but will undoubtedly carry on her and her husband’s legacy with pride.”