Retired US Army Capt. from Illinois Is among Americans Killed in Ethiopian Airlines Crash

Mar 15, 2019
09:18 A.M.

Antoine Lewis was a retired Army captain who was away on missionary work, and a passenger on the Ethiopian Airline Flight 302 that crashed shortly after takeoff.


The plane crash happened just outside the capital of Ethiopia on March 10th killing 157 people, among them eight Americans.

Lewis was from a large family of nine kids that grew up in Matteson, Illinois, and his mother Antoinette Lewis said,

“He went doing the things that he loved, that he had a passion for. His passion was just to make a better world, make a better place, both here and our mother country.”


He joined the Army after high school and rose in rank to military captain serving in Afghanistan. His father, Rodney Lewis shared this about his son stationed in Ottawa, Canada,

“He was also stationed in South Korea. He was a military man, he loved it, he was moving up through the military. He went as an enlisted man, and he got his undergraduate degree and his graduate degree. He’s got a 15-year-old son.”


Mel Riffel who was also on the ill-fated flight with his brother Bennett, were off on holiday which was meant to be a bonding trip before Mel became a dad in May.


Both from Redding, California, their itinerary included a visit to Australia before traveling to Africa. A close family friend, Jake Mangas spoke the family’s devastation, namely the brothers’ parents Ike and Susan Riffel, and Mel’s wife, Brittney. The boys’ were honored by their community who placed flowers at their elementary school and parish, St. Joseph Church.

Due to this tragedy and the growing concern over the aircraft’s safety Boeing has recommended the temporary global suspension of their 737 Max fleet. The U.S., Canada, India, China and all of Europe have since complied with this direction with Mexico being the 50th country to follow suit.

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