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Army captain from Matteson killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash

Antoine Lewis | via Facebook

Antoine Lewis grew up in south suburban Matteson, but he dreamed of one day living in Africa.

Lewis, a U.S. Army captain, was traveling in East Africa on Sunday, when his Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing 157 people.

Lewis, who was stationed in Ottawa, Canada, was on vacation at the time, traveling to Africa — a continent he had visited many times, his aunt Bonita Parker said Tuesday.

“He first and foremost loved the Lord, he loved his country and he was a humanitarian,” Parker said.

Lewis, 39, leaves behind a wife, who also is in the service, and a 15-year-old son, Parker said.

“I personally watched Captain Antoine Lewis grow from a young lad to an American hero,” Matteson Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin said in a statement.

“I’ve known the Lewis family for over two decades. My family has been proud neighbors to this iconic family. Our children are lifelong personal friends who still have close ties. Captain Lewis was an outstanding person who engaged himself with many positive facets of the Matteson community.”

The Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, while en route to Nairobi, Kenya, officials said. Chicago-based Boeing was sending a technical team to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.

Lewis, who had eight siblings, had been traveling to Africa for the past 10 years or so — both doing missionary work and exploring business opportunities, Parker said.

“He did a lot of mentoring on the business front,” Parker said.

Lewis planned to retire from the military in about seven years, she said.

“He’ll be loved forever and sorely missed by his family,” she said.

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