Army Capt. Antoine Lewis was one of eight Americans killed when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday, news reports say.
Lewis was on the flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya, when Flight 302 crashed, killing all 157 people aboard, according to a CBS report from Chicago.
Lewis was stationed in Ottawa, Canada, and he was on a vacation to Africa, his family said.
"I will say that plane went down with him doing what he wanted to do most, and that was to stretch out and embrace our mother country,” his mother, Antoinette Lewis, said in the CBS report.
His family, from the Chicago suburb of Matteson, Illinios, knew he was on the plane, tried calling him and didn’t get an answer, the report said.
Lewis, 39, had served in Afghanistan and South Korea during his military career, ABC 7 in Chicago reported. He was in Africa to do missionary work, the report said.
“He was a military man, he loved it, he was moving up through the military,” his father, Rodney Lewis, said in the ABC report, adding that the soldier had enlisted in the Army and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The soldier is survived by his wife, his 15-year-old son and a large extended family.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft went down in clear weather just minutes after takeoff. It “rotated two times in the air” with smoke coming from the back before crashing, said witness Tamrat Abera.
Ethiopian authorities are leading the investigation into the crash, assisted by the U.S., Kenya and others.
People from 35 countries died in the crash six minutes after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital. At least 21 staff members from the United Nations were killed in the crash, said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.