Lieutenant Commander Theodore H. Faller: A True Hero

LTC Faller

August 13, 1979 - U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Theodore "Ted" Faller lost his life when his QF-86 Sabre suffered an engine failure moments after takeoff. Ted managed to bring the stricken aircraft down in a vacant lot 600 yards south of the Ridgecrest Heights Elementary School, later renamed Faller Elementary. His chase plane/wingman was Lt. Rosemary Conatser whom was also flying a QF-86 Sabre and was just getting airborne as Faller began to lose power. She circled overhead for a short time and returned to the NWC line shortly after rescue personal began to arrive on the scene. The first on scene was off-duty NWC Armitage Airfield civilian firefighter Cory Collins. He said that when he got there, Faller was conscious and alert, but couldn't get out of his harness. The gear was still retracted and Cory easily jumped up on the aircraft and attempted to release him as fire was engulfing the plane from the engine moving forward. By then Ridgecrest units and another NWC off-duty firefighter arrived, but weren't equipped to douse aviation fuel fires and by the time someone finally arrived with a knife, the rescuers, mainly civilians, were driven back by the intense heat and several were badly burned. Ted's wife was presented with a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross. Ted Faller was 36 years old. ~ from AMH Jim McCann, VX-5 A-7 PC, Airframes Mech., and Intermediate Hydraulics Tech. 


Lieutenant Commander Faller's QF-86 Sabre

In recognition of his heroism, Lieutenant Commander Faller was posthumously awarded the United States Navy's Distinguished Flying Cross. In a showing of respect and gratitude for his selfless act, The Sierra Sands Unified School Board renamed the Ridgecrest Heights Elementary School in his honor. He was also awarded the American Legion's Aviator's Valor Award for 1979. His Aviator's Medal of Valor resides in a place of honor in the lobby of the school that bears his name.


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