Capt James "Mano" Steel Bracelet (USAFA '06)

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Capt James "Mano" Steel Bracelet (USAFA '06)

25.00

Captain James “MANO” Steel, 29, died April 3, 2013 in the crash of an F-16 near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. While returning to the airfield from a close-air support mission, Captain Steel was flying his F-16 low to prepare for landing but could not see the mountain in his flight path due to poor weather conditions.

Captain Steel was on his first deployment to Afghanistan and was due to come home in just three weeks. “He was always smiling, always happy,” James’ mother, Dee Steel, said, “He loved life. I think he lived two days for every one day. He just got the most out of every day.” Dee recalls that though James was not the oldest of his four brothers and one sister, he took the lead from the very beginning. Every Christmas, James told his siblings what gifts they would get their parents and how much they each owed him. James taught himself to play guitar, had a love for skydiving, working out, and fishing. From as far back as Dee can remember her fearless son wanted to be an F-16 pilot like his father, retired Air Force Major General Robert Steel. James’ mother had also spent 4 years in the Air Force, as well as both grandfathers, who were Air Force veterans.

James, from Tampa, Florida, ran cross country and track in high school, graduated valedictorian and, like both his parents, went on to the Air Force Academy where he was commander of Cadet Squadron 28, the same squadron to which his mom and dad belonged more than two decades before. Col. Clay Hall said, “MANO was proud of serving his country, proud of being an F-16 pilot and proud of being a ‘Gambler.’”

$10 from every bracelet sale will go to The American Fallen Soldier’s Project; a non-profit that helps provide comfort and healing to the Gold-Star families by creating an original portrait of their fallen loved one that fully captures their appearance and personality.

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