Local woman killed in accident at Air Force base

PALATINE BRIDGE – A local woman, serving as a member of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, died in an industrial area accident Monday at about 4:30 p.m.

According to a news release from MacDill Air Force base, Staff Sgt. Emily Elizabeth Clayburn, 29, of Palatine Bridge, was killed in an industrial accident on site. The 29-year-old was assigned to the 6th Logistic Readiness Squadron.

“The 6th Air Mobility Wing lost a valued member of our Air Force family, and we are deeply saddened. Staff Sgt. Clayburn will be missed by the entire wing and all who had the opportunity to serve with her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends,” said Col. Scott DeThomas, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, in the news release.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Clayburn was a graduate of Canajoharie High School, the daughter of Robert and Michelle Clayburn and the granddaughter of former Palatine Bridge Mayor Thomas Clayburn and Anne Clayburn.

Anne Clayburn managed to see her granddaughter on Christmas, sitting and talking with her cousins and family over the holidays.

“She was a beautiful grandchild,” Anne Clayburn said.

Emily was an athletic girl, according to her grandmother, having participated in the Canajoharie High School swim team and even an Air Force swim team, competing against other armed services.

“She was a joy to have around,” Anne Clayburn said, describing how her granddaughter never missed a birthday and would correspond constantly with family and friends.

Village Mayor James Post said he saw Clayburn around when she was a child because his daughters went to school with her.

“It’s a shock to a small community,” Post said. “…I think everyone has been talking about it on social media.”.

Michelle Clayburn, Emily’s mother, said funeral plans have not been made yet.

“She loved her family very much and visited whenever she was on leave,” Michelle Clayburn said. “She loved the Adirondacks and loved the Mohawk Valley.”

Emily served two tours in Iraq, South Korea and Germany during her service, learning a new appreciation of human life during her tours, according to Michelle.

“I just want to celebrate her life because [spiritually] she is at peace and she is home,” Michelle Clayburn said.