Rick was in the United States Air Force from September of 1970 to May of 1976. He was honorably discharged as a Captain. He is a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association.
Rick flew the F-4 Phantom II supersonic (mach 2+) fighter bomber for five years. The picture in the prior link shows an F-4E over southeast Asia with a 20mm canon (a six barreled gun capable of firing 6,000 rounds/minute) in the nose and 12 Mark 82 five hundred pound general purpose bombs – 6 on the center line and 3 under each wing. This was a typical ordinance load for close air support missions in 1972. The outboard stations under the wings carry two 360 gallon external fuel tanks that could be jettisoned if necessary for more range and better maneuverability.
He flew combat missions in 1972 over North Vietnam, South Vietnam & Laos while a member of the 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand.
In the picture above, Rick’s right hand is resting on an AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared guided air to air missile and his left hand is on a 360 gallon external fuel tank. The yellowish rectangular strips above the wing and on the tail below the JJ are florescent lights for night formation flying.
He sat on nuclear alert as part of the single integrated operational plan (SIOP) with a 1 megaton (1,000,000 tons of TNT) nuclear bomb on my airplane and air defense alert (intercepted Russian bombers approaching the coast of South Korea) at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, 1973. F-4s on alert had to be airborne within ten minutes of being scrambled, which was always an Adrenalin pumping experience. Nothing quite like playing Monopoly or cards with the guys in the alert shack one minute and blasting into the sky five minutes later at 600+ knots in a supersonic jet fighter carrying four AIM-7 Sparrow radar guided missiles, four AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and 700 rounds of 20mm ammunition.
Rick was an F-4 instructor in the: (i) classroom (Aircraft General, Weapons Computer Release System & Combat Mission Planning), (ii) simulator, and (iii) airborne in the 35th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at George Air Force Base, California, 1973 – 1976.
Twice Rick picked up brand new F-4s from the McDonnell Douglas factory in St Louis and delivered the airplanes to Tehran, Iran, for the Iranian Air Force during the rule of the Shah of Iran.
For articles Rick wrote about flying the F-4 in combat in the Vietnam war in 1972, see Rick’s F-4 website called Flying the F-4. See some of Rick’s pictures from the Vietnam war.
To learn more about flying the F-4 Phantom, read Rick’s articles called: