A memorial service was held Monday at the United States Southern Command for a South Florida airman killed in a plane crash in Colombia while tracking a suspected smuggling vessel.
Air Force Master Sgt. Martin Gonzales of Miramar was killed in early October when the twin-engine turboprop crashed near the Panamanian border. Three others were also killed, including two American defense contractors. Two other American contractors were injured in the crash.
The cause of the crash has not yet been released.
"He went to Colombia, he went to Curacao, he went to Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and always did the job right. He was flawless in the mission," said Lt. Col. Roberto Vasquez.
Gonzales left behind his wife and two children. A message left for his wife was read, saying, "I will never turn from my duties. If making the ultimate sacrifice is what it takes, I will not think twice about it. I am proud to fight for your freedom."
Southcom officials say the plane was contracted to provide detection and monitoring of drug trafficking routes in the coastal region of Central America as part of a $165 million security initiative. Fourteen countries participate.