Vancouver pilot recalled as scholar, warrior

Capt. Christopher Stover buried at Air Force Academy

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Capt. Christopher Stover was buried Monday at the Air Force Academy, where the Vancouver pilot is being remembered as a scholar and a warrior.

Stover and three other airmen died in a Jan. 7 helicopter accident along the English coast.

The funeral Mass for Stover was in the Cadet Chapel. It was followed by burial in the Air Force Academy Cemetery.

Stover, 28, was a 2004 graduate of Evergreen High School. His parents are Maribel and Richard Stover of Vancouver.

About 100 people attended the service, including academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson and the head of Stover's squadron, according to The Associated Press.

Stover graduated from the Air Force Academy, near Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2008. According to the student newspaper at the Air Force Academy, Stover served in Iraq and Afghanistan before his three-year deployment in England.

Stover majored in physics at the academy, according to Amber Baillie, staff writer with the Academy Spirit. Geoff Andersen, senior researcher with the academy's Laser and Optics Research Center, said he worked with Stover on a project involving optics and computer-generated holograms.

"The work is designed to improve surveillance imaging through the atmosphere, as well as directed-energy weaponry," Andersen told Baillie. "The system we developed was a completely new technology, which has since advanced to field trials and is being adopted by many groups around the world."

Andersen said Stover was a remarkable student with a gift for innovative thinking and problem-solving.

"He was a delight to teach and I hoped that he would one day be able to return to the field of physics, for which he had a real gift," Andersen told Baillie.

Stover was piloting an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter that crashed during a low-altitude training mission over a coastal wetland near Salthouse, England. Capt. Sean Ruane, Tech. Sgt. Dale Mathews and Staff Sgt. Afton Ponce also were killed.

The airmen were with the U.S. Air Force's 56th Rescue Squadron, based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England.

Stover is survived by his wife, Sarah Stover; his parents; and his sister, Kelly Stover.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.