Valley high school graduate James Michael Steel killed on mission in Afghanistan

A U.S. Air Force pilot who died in Afghanistan on April 3 was a graduate of a Valley high school.

Capt. James Michael Steel, 29, of Tampa, Florida, was killed in the crash of an F-16 near Bagram Airfield, according to a Department of Defense news release.

Steel was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Steel was a 2002 graduate of Cactus High School in Glendale, according to a district spokeswoman.

Steel graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2006 before completing pilot training, according to The State in South Carolina.

Air Force Central Command Capt. Natassia Cherne said on Stars and Stripes' website that the plane was on final approach to land after a routine mission when it lost contact with its wingman and control tower, crashing 10 miles from the runway.

The accident is under investigation.

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