Marines congratulate Col. John A. Rahe, assistant wing commander of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, after his final flight before retirement at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., March 28, 2018.
On March 31st, 2011 (the day following my 50th birthday), I flew my last flight as a USAF pilot.
After 28 years of Air Force service during which I was lucky enough to log 4,667 flight hours in USAF aircraft (250 hours in combat and 1700 hours as an Instructor Pilot) in the T-38, F-16, and F-15 aircraft, it was time for me to call it quits.
I was able to coax Lt Col Dale “Storrman” Storr, former Desert Storm POW, into flying in my back seat.
Dale and I had been Lieutenants together at Randolph AFB T-38 Instructor School in 1985. He was the cameraman for this clip.
The men and women of the 186th Fighter Squadron “Vigilantes”, with whom it was my honor to serve as Squadron Commander, along with various guests and retired Vigilantes, greeted me following that “fini flight” with the traditional hose-down and champagne. My son Woody was given the fire truck hose and he gave me an exceptionally enthusiastic dousing.
The retirement ceremony took place immediately afterward. It was an amazing adventure and my great privilege to fly and fight with fine Americans such as these for almost three decades.
I would gladly do it all over, but as Jimmy Doolittle said of his own life, “I could never be so lucky again.”