Ceremony at Arizona State Capitol honors Frank Luke, Jr.

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Luke Air Force Base is a landmark here in the Valley, but you may not know the story behind the man the base is named after.

Frank Luke, Jr. was killed in action while piloting in World War I, and this week marks the 100th anniversary of his death.

Two F-35's and two F-16's flew over the state capitol at precisely 9:01 and 45 seconds on Wednesday morning, and also standing proudly beneath was a statue of Luke, Jr.

"Frank Luke was an Arizona native," said Brigadier Gen. Todd Canterbury, of the 56th Fighter Wing. "He was an adventurist. He was an athlete at Phoenix Union High School."

Brigadier Gen. Canterbury says Frank Luke Jr. went to work in the mines in Globe, Arizona and that's where he learned about World War I.

"He was drawn to the aviation service early on because of the adventure and the freedom that provided," Brigadier Gen. Canterbury said. "He was able to win our nation's battles of course over there, which won the war for us."

He was shot down over France on September 29, 1918. Today, a ceremony took place to honor this hero... 100 years after his death.

"Iit is an honor, it really is to be included in this and it's an honor that he [is] remembered like this," said Lizann, Frank Luke Jr.'s great niece. "He was a Congressional Medal of Honor, one of the first ones and just the fact that the base keeps up his name is quite an honor."

"Today, I think it's extremely important, I think we have forgotten the sacrifices that people have made for this country and this is just a piece of it," said Done, Frank Luke Jr.'s nephew.

Frank Luke Jr. was the first airman to receive the Medal of Honor. Luke Air Force Base, a U.S. Air Force pilot training installation since World War II, is named in his honor. 

"The characteristics that Frank Luke Jr. brought into battle are still reflected in our airmen today," Brigadier Gen. Canterbury said.  "The proficiency, the innovation, the courage he showed in World War I is prevalent each and every day out in Luke Air Force Base."

As part of Wednesday's ceremony, family members were presented with a special flag.

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