Life of late Latter-day Saint airman defined by grit, compassion

A Latter-day Saint airman beloved for his positivity, tenacity and the caring manner in which he treated his family and co-workers, died in a cycling accident in central Alaska.

United States Air Force Major Michael McAllister “Cal” Gentry, 37, was killed Aug. 1 when the bicycle he was riding was struck by a truck northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. 

A returned missionary and Utah native, Gentry was serving as the 354th Contracting Squadron commander at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska at the time of his death. Two other airmen were also involved in the accident, according to an Air Force release.

“Cal was an incredible leader in our wing, in our Air Force, and in every community to which he belonged,” said Air Force Colonel Shawn Anger, 354th Fighter Wing commander. “Cal was one of the most impressive individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to serve alongside. He was an athlete, academic, innovator, go-getter, you name it — he could do it. 

“On top of all of his talent, he was a devoted family man. Cal will be missed dearly by all who knew him.”

Gentry is survived by his wife, Lisa Poppleton Gentry; sons Kaison Ali’i and Jacob Dieter; mother, Linda Lee Gentry-Bray; along with several siblings, nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by his father, Michael Austin Gentry.

“Cal was a friend to everyone,” his obituary noted. “He was known to take others under his wing, befriending and mentoring them. His positivity lit up the room and lifted the spirits of all around him. He was fun and adventurous, and had a passion for sports, travel, and exploring the outdoors. Cal exuded a special love for his life and the people in it. He truly inspired and impacted the lives of friends and colleagues around the world.”

An Eagle Scout, honor roll student and varsity athlete at Utah’s West Jordan High School, Gentry served in the Ukraine Donetsk Mission (2002-2004) before graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 2007.

He and his wife, Lisa, married later that year.

Gentry’s decorated military career included several deployments and assignments around the world. Determination and grit helped him overcome cancer in 2014, and he later participated in the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program. He was selected to represent Team USA at the Invictus Games — competing in several sports.

Funeral services and interment will take place on Saturday, Aug. 15, in West Jordan, Utah.