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Published on Mar 24, 2011
Brig. Gen Steve Ritchie tells the amazing story of the rescue of downed pilot Roger Locher in Vietnam in 1972.
In that same year Ritchie volunteered for his second tour in Southeast Asia and was assigned to the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Udorn, Thailand. Flying an F-4D with the famous 555th ("Triple Nickel") Tactical Fighter Squadron, he became the only Air Force jet ace by downing a MiG-21 on May 10, another on May 31, two on July 8 and his last on Aug. 28.
After completing 339 combat missions totaling more than 800 flying hours, Ritchie returned as one of the most highly decorated pilots of the war, having received the Air Force Cross, four Silver Stars, 10 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 25 Air Medals.
His combat expertise brought him the 1972 "Mackay Trophy" for the most significant Air Force mission of the year (along with Capts. Jeff Feinstein and Charles DeBellevue), the Air Force Academy's 1972 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship, and the 1972 Armed Forces Award, presented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 1973 he was selected as one of the "Outstanding Young Men of America," and in 1974 he received the Eugene Zuckert Award from the Civil Air Patrol.