WEST JORDAN — Michael McCallister Gentry loved riding bicycles.
It was his passions and he often got his friends to go along with him.
“He would say to me ‘hey, come ride with me up the Cottonwood Canyons’ and I would decline those invitations,” said Clay Noyes, a good friend of Gentry’s. “I went on one bike ride with him and that was one too many, because he would leave me in the dust.”
After all the adventures he went on, Saturday afternoon was Gentry’s final ride.
After his funeral service at a West Jordan church, Gentry was brought to the West Jordan Cemetery, where he was laid to rest.
Gentry, known to his friends as “Cal,” was an Air Force Major and the 354th Squadron Commander at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.
He was riding his bicycle with a friend on the Steese Highway between Fairbanks and Circle on Aug. 1 when they were both hit by the driver of their support truck.
Gentry was flown to a hospital where he later died.
The cause of the accident is still being investigated, but rather than focusing on how he died, his friends and family decided to celebrate how he lived.
“Cal was larger than life, really. He was just go, go, go,” said Maj. Matthew Davis, who served in the Air Force with Gentry. ”Obviously, these are unique circumstances, but we’ve seen so many people reach out to try and help. So many people love him and care about him.”
Gentry, 37 years old, leaves behind his wife, two sons, and lots of memories.
He has served in the Air Force since 2007.
Before that, he graduated from West Jordan High School, where he earned varsity letters in basketball and football before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We both returned from our missions having learned Russian. I served in Russia and he served in the Ukraine,” said Noyes. “He convinced us to all go to a Russian restaurant in Denver and we felt like we were lucky to come out alive because we were pretty sure it was a real Russian mafia sitting over there.”
Little stories like those are what his friends are remembering.
“It’s been sad, but it’s also been fun, to share all these memories, to laugh about all the crazy exploits,” said Noyes.
Gentry also beat cancer, was a war survivor, and competed for the Air Force in the Wounded Warrior program.
“He was so energetic and outgoing. Really, if he wanted to do something, he did it,” said Davis.
But, for as adventurous as he was, he was also a family man who loved every minute he could get with his wife and kids.
“He really loved them,” said Noyes.
Gentry was given a military-style funeral. More than 100 people showed up, with American flags lining the entrance.
“It’s really special, especially for a service member and remembering the service he rendered,” Davis said.
There is no doubt Gentry will be missed, but his friends say he is most likely already having fun on his next adventure.
“He was a great guy,” said Noyes. “And you don’t maybe realize until they’re gone how many people’s lives they have impacted.”