From Linebacker to Bastion

Vietnam War veteran and HC-130P pilot Lt. Col. James Routt last week flew his final combat mission, capping his 33-year military career with the 71st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron in Afghanistan. Assigned to B-52s after graduating Officer Training School in 1971, Routt’s first deployed during Operation Linebacker II, supporting the strategic bombing campaign against targets in North Vietnam in December 1972. Recalled to active duty after retiring in 1996, Routt was pressed into service filling USAF’s need for experienced HC-130/MC-130 instructors. Joining the 550th Special Operations Squadron at Kirtland AFB, N.M., “my main function was to train and mentor the younger instructors,” recalls Routt. He “gave me my check-ride,” admitted Lt. Col. Todd Barber, 71st ERS commander at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan. Offered the chance to deploy in February, Routt jumped at the chance. His final mission was on April 12. (Bastion report by SSgt. David Salanitri)