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Vipers in the Storm
Pilot Debreif


1) Flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, especially in combat during Operation Desert Storm, is a thrill few individuals have experienced.  What inspired you to become a fighter pilot?

My father and brother both flew for the Air Force and both flew in combat.  My dad flew B-26s in WWII and my brother the F-4 in Vietnam.  After I finished college I needed to do something and challenging; I always thought military flying would give me the greatest challenge and it did, especially flying fighters.

2) When did you join the Air Force, and what was your first flying assignment after completing Undergraduate Pilot Training?

I joined the USAF at the end of December 1982.  I enterred the USAF's flight screening program in Hondo, TX before going through Ofiicer Training School.  My first assignment out of UPT was a T-38 instructor at Columbus AFB, MS.

3) What aircraft have you flown, and what are the different bases you have been assigned to during your Air Force career?

I have flown the T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-16A,B,C,D (Blocks 10,15,40).  My assignments include Columbus AFB, MS, Holloman AFB, NM, MacDill AFB, FL, Moody AFB, GA, Al Minhad AB, UAE and King Fahd AB, Saudi Arabia.

4) Which models of the F-16 have you flown, and how many hours do you have in the Viper?

I have flown the F-16 Blocks 10, 15, and 40.  Total F-16 hours: 700

5) What was your best assignment and why?

My best assignment was at Moody AFB in the F-16.  The flying was great and the guys I flew with were the best in the fighter business.  I went to war with these guys and we were a very tight knit group.

6) This year marks the ten year anniversary of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the beginning of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Looking back, what was the experience of combat like for you?

Combat was very frightening before and after the missions.  However, during the combat sortie, it was very business-like, even while being shot at.  I said a prayer every time I rolled onto the runway.  I always said, "God please let me see my wife and kids again".  I didn't worry about dying, only that I would miss seeing my family grow up.  It didn't help that I left for the Gulf with my wife 6-months pregnant.

7) How many combat missions did you fly, and is there one particular mission that stands out more than any other?

I flew 37 combat missions. The first and last 2 missions I flew (last night of the war) stand out the most.  The first mission was very eerie.  It was my first combat mission and we flew up to Baghdad and back (almost 5 hours) and they were comm jamming us, shooting SAMs, etc.  During the last 2 missions we were to hit the Republican Guard as they retreated.  The weather was terrible and thunderstorms were everywhere in addition to being night sorties.  The Iraqi's shot a lot of AAA at us during each bomb run.  It almost felt like day one of the war.

8) What do you remember most about your time spent in the United Arab Emirates at Al Minhad AB?

Although we only spent about 2 weeks in Al Minhad before going north to King Fahd AB, my most vivid memory is the first night of the war.  I remember waking up at about 3 a.m. to hear jets taking off, and I knew it was the beginning of the war.

9) What have you been doing since the war, and where are you now?

When the Gulf War ended, I returned home with four days to spare before my daughter Rachael was born. I separated from the USAF and I am currently a pilot for Delta Air Lines. I live in Niceville, FL with my beautiful daughters Kelly, Rachael, Samantha, and my son Kyle.


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Copyright © 2005 by Keith A. Rosenkranz.  All rights reserved.
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