People who knew Air Force Lt. Col. John D. Loftis from his high school days in Calloway County remember a bright, responsible young man who was always smiling. It was fitting, perhaps, that Esan, the name he was given in Pashto, means the quality of being generous.
Lt. Col. Loftis, who fluently spoke Pashto, southern Afghanistan's most common language, served with the 866th Air Expeditionary Squadron in Kabul, Afghanistan.
It was during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan that Lt. Col. Loftis was killed Feb. 25 when an Afghan intelligence officer opened fire inside Afghanistan's interior ministry, apparently in retaliation for the burning of the Quran by NATO troops.
After graduating from Calloway County High School, Loftis received a degree from Vanderbilt University and served in the Peace Corps before joining the Air Force in 1996.
A 2009 American Forces Press Services article described Lt. Col. Loftis' work as a provincial reconstruction team member and the value of his skill in Pashto, recounted how he visited Afghan guards on watch in towers on the Islam holiday of Eid.
"They were sitting all by themselves for hours on this major Islam holiday," Lt. Col. Loftis told the reporter. "I figured that if I were someplace by myself on Christmas, I would want somebody to come around and share the moment with me."
Lt. Col. Loftis, who is survived by his wife and two daughters as well as his parents, had turned 44 last week.
We join in mourning their loss and in honoring Lt. Col. Lofis' service.