Air Force ROTC detachment, Texas Tech honor fallen Red Raider F-16 pilot

  • Published
  • By Cadet Kendall Jones and Cadet Jilliana Mullen
  • AFROTC Detachment 820

Seventeen years ago, Maj. Troy “Trojan” Gilbert was an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who gave his life protecting special operations forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is a 1993 graduate of Texas Tech University, and his actions did not go unnoticed at his alma mater.

During its centennial celebration on Nov. 17, 2023, the university unveiled a commemorative plaque to remember Gilbert alongside other alumni who fought for the country.

The plaque is placed within Texas Tech’s Memorial Circle, where Gilbert will always be honored by his fellow Red Raiders.

Texas Tech Air Force ROTC Detachment 820 thought it was important to tell his story to aid cadets in their journey from “hopefuls to heroes.”

“U.S. military hallways are often filled with both heroes and hopefuls. The heroes line the walls, their story written on plaques,” said Maj. James Gray, instructor at Detachment 820. “The hopefuls walk the halls, wearing the uniform, paying homage to those that have come before them.”

That’s why following the memorial, the detachment dedicated a heritage room in Gilbert’s honor, where cadets will always be inspired by his legacy.

The guest of honor at the dedication was his widow Ginger Gilbert Ravella. She shared memories of her husband and did the honor of officially opening the heritage room.

“It was an absolute honor to dedicate and name our new heritage room after Major Troy ‘Trojan’ Gilbert,” said Detachment 820 Commander Lt. Col. Daniel O’Brien. “It was even more of an honor to spend the evening with Major Gilbert's family, and we will never forget this servant leader. It is such an honor to share in such a rich heritage.”

The cadets at Detachment 820 were humbled as they supported the day’s ceremonies.

“Learning the story of Major Troy Gilbert’s dedication, perseverance and overall warrior spirit has been essential as he reminds us of the sacrifices we must all be willing to make,” said Cadet Arianna Miller, detachment cadet wing commander. “Memorializing Trojan in our detachment heritage room ensures he lives on through us, and his wingmanship will never be forgotten.”

Remembering his warrior spirit is what the members of Detachment 820 will do every time they ring the bell and propose a toast at “Trojan Bar.”

Gilbert commissioned in 1995 through Officer Training School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The school renamed its headquarters building Gilbert Hall in his memory at a dedication ceremony in 2009.