315th AW family mourns loss of veteran loadmaster

The 315th Airlift Wing received news late last week that one of its members, Senior Master Sgt. George  Counts Jr., died in a car crash along with his wife and father. Majors Mike Stratton and Jason Williams along with loadmasters Eric Zilaitis and George Counts, 317th Airlift Squadron Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., maintained the C-17 static display at Ysterplaat Air Force Base, Cape Town South Africa Sept. 21-25. The Africa Aerospace and Defense Exposition was the largest expo of air, land, and sea capabilities on the African continent. (U.S. Air Force file photo)

The 315th Airlift Wing received news late last week that one of its members, Senior Master Sgt. George Counts Jr., died in a car crash along with his wife and father. Majors Mike Stratton and Jason Williams along with loadmasters Eric Zilaitis and George Counts, 317th Airlift Squadron Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., maintained the C-17 static display at Ysterplaat Air Force Base, Cape Town South Africa Sept. 21-25. The Africa Aerospace and Defense Exposition was the largest expo of air, land, and sea capabilities on the African continent. (U.S. Air Force file photo)

The 315th Airlift Wing received news late last week that one of its members, Senior Master Sgt. George  Counts Jr., died in a car crash along with his wife and father.
Here, then Master Sgt. George Counts, a loadmaster with the 317th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base S.C., explains the features of the C-17 Globemaster III to a member of the Africa Aerospace and Defense Youth Development Program at Ysterplaat Air Force Base, Cape Town South Africa. The program, which focuses on getting young people the tools they need to excel in South Africa's aviation and defense industries, coincided with the five day air and trade show Sept 21-25, 2010. (U.S. Air Force file photo)

The 315th Airlift Wing received news late last week that one of its members, Senior Master Sgt. George Counts Jr., died in a car crash along with his wife and father. Here, then Master Sgt. George Counts, a loadmaster with the 317th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base S.C., explains the features of the C-17 Globemaster III to a member of the Africa Aerospace and Defense Youth Development Program at Ysterplaat Air Force Base, Cape Town South Africa. The program, which focuses on getting young people the tools they need to excel in South Africa's aviation and defense industries, coincided with the five day air and trade show Sept 21-25, 2010. (U.S. Air Force file photo)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. --

The 315th Airlift Wing received news late last week that one of its members, Senior Master Sgt. George  Counts Jr., died in a car crash along with his wife and father.

On the evening of Feb. 3 in Barnwell County, South Carolina, Counts’ vehicle was struck head on by another vehicle killing him, his wife Cynthia Counts, and father George Michael Counts, Sr.  George Counts, Jr. was chief loadmaster with the 317th Airlift Squadron.

“George (known by “Mike” among his family and around Aiken) has been an integral part of our squadron for over 16 years and the 315th Airlift Wing for nearly 31 years,” said 317th Airlift Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Stan Davis.  “This is certainly a very sad and devastating event for his only daughter, Katelyn, and for all of us.   Our thoughts and prayers are with Katelyn, her husband Corey, and all of George's extended family and friends.”

Many throughout his squadron and wing echo the shock of this loss, and share similar compliments about his spotless work ethic.

“If there ever was one, George was one person who exhibited the traits of the Air Force Core Values,” said Chief Master Sgt. Bryan DuBois, 317th AS loadmaster superintendent.  “He was always the quiet one at our meetings and would assume a position in the back.  So after noticing this, I would introduce him when he came in the meetings: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, George Counts!’  And George would turn red from embarrassment.”

Counts flew as a loadmaster on Special Operation Command, Drug Enforcement Agency and Presidential support missions.  He also took time to volunteer through the United Way Project Serve, and visits to veterans at the local Veterans hospitals.

Col. Gregory Gilmour, 315 AW commander, said he was truly saddened by this tragic news.

Obituary and Funeral Service information follows:

George Michael “Mike” Counts, Jr., 56, loving husband of the late Cynthia Marsh Counts, and beloved son of the late George Michael Counts, Sr., passed away Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

The family will receive friends beginning at noon until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017 at Cedar Creek Church, Banks Mill Campus, and the funeral service will begin at 2 p.m. with the Reverend Lee Phillips and Reverend Phillip Lee officiating.  Interment will follow in Southlawn Cemetery.

A lifelong resident of Aiken, Mike was a supervisor for Savannah River Remediation at the Savannah River Site.  He was Chief Load Master of 317th Airlift Squadron of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Charleston, S.C.  A lover of aviation, he was a longtime hot air balloon pilot and enthusiast.

He is survived by his daughter, Katelyn Counts (husband Corey) Callahan, Greenville, S.C., a sister, Elizabeth Counts (husband Victor) Darrow, Suwanee, Ga.; nephew Jared Alston Darrow; his mother, Lois Ellen Cromer Counts, Aiken, S.C.; and dear friends Margaret and Ray Kearse.

Memorials may be directed to the Aiken SPCA, 199 Willow Run Rd., Aiken, S.C. 29801, or the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kan. 66675.

Mike’s online guest book may be signed at www.shellhouseriversfuneralhome.com  

Arrangements are being handled by Shellhouse-Rivers Funeral Home in Aiken, S.C. 

Visitation and Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, Feb.  08, 2017 in Aiken, S.C.  Details are as follows:

Visitation: Noon – 2 p.m.

Cedar Creek Church, Banks Mill Campus

3001 Banks Mill Rd

Aiken, S.C. 29803

Funeral Service: 2 p.m.

Cedar Creek Church, Banks Mill Campus

3001 Banks Mill Rd

Aiken, S.C. 29803

Google Map Directions:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir//3001+Banks+Mill+Rd+SE,+Aiken,+SC+29803/@33.4901444,-81.7391866,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m8!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f9ad14cd1fe1fb:0xe38724cf675f3281!2m2!1d-81.6691465!2d33.4901641 

 

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