From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Joel Korkowski '94

Date of birth: February 23, 1972

Date of death: October 18, 2002

Age: 30


From Your Houston News on October 23, 2002:

Korkowski, 30, was aboard one of two fighter jets that collided with each other on Friday. Four Naval officers were missing after the collision, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday called off their search for the missing pilots, due to sea and weather conditions and the amount of time that had passed since the crash.

Although no bodies have been found, military officials and family members fear the worst.

Korkowski graduated in 1990 from Clear Lake High School and went on to attend Texas A&M University, graduating in 1994 with a degree in aerospace engineering. After that, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. for two years, then resigned.

"He is a very well thought-of young man around here," said Susan Hannz, whose husband recruited Korkowski into the Navy. "He was always so nice, a very well-rounded man."

Korkowski's father, James, was also a fighter pilot who worked for NASA. He died of cancer-related illness in 1986.

James Korkowski was a pilot for the Illinois National Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration before joining NASA.

Sources say Joel Korkowski's dream was to be an astronaut, the same vision his father shared.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Joel Korkowski flew an F-14 fighter jet over Afghanistan. At the time of the crash, he was piloting a F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter.

Korkowski was a member of the Strike Fighter Squadron 41, stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station near Fresno, CA.

Korkowski's mother, Sarah, reportedly lives in Illinois. Her hometown is listed as Rushville, Il. Korkowski also has a brother named Luke, who lives in Washington, D.C.

Korkowski's wife, Kris, is seven months pregnant with their child, said Patty Ferry, a family friend. The two met at A&M, Ferry said.

"He's not like any kid you could ever meet," Ferry said of Korkowski. "He made such a positive impression on everyone around him."

Korkowski was reportedly planning on attending a graduate school in Monterrey, Calif., at the time of the crash.

"He's an outstanding person," said Diana Wisdom, whose husband Jack is in the Navy with Korkowski.

Korkowski was brought up attending Clear Lake Presybeterian Church and was heavily involved in the popular Christian "Young Life" program, friends say.

He has a memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery and another in Illinois.

His daughter's name is Skylar.


Joel was a 1994 graduate of Texas A&M University. (Believe the timeline in the article above is incorrect; would make more sense that he attended USNA for two years before leaving for A&M.)

Related Articles

Matt Shubzda '98 was piloting the other F/A-18 involved in the collision off the coast of California.

Class of 1994

Joel is one of 7 members of the Class of 1994 on Virtual Memorial Hall.