Jack Broughton, 1925-2014

Jacksel M. Broughton, a retired Air Force colonel and fighter pilot who flew a total of 216 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, and also made his mark as an author, died on Oct. 24 after a short illness. He was 89. Broughton was a valued contributor to Air Force Magazine; his most recent article, The Heart of the North, appeared in April 2014. Broughton was the recipient of the Air Force Cross for action in Vietnam, as well as two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, and four Distinguished Flying Crosses. In addition to his storied Air Force flying career—Broughton commanded the Thunderbirds in the 1950s, leading their transition to the supersonic F-100—he wrote two critically acclaimed books about the Vietnam air war: Thud Ridge and Going Downtown. A West Point graduate, he flew P-51s and P-47s in Europe before transitioning to the first jet-powered aircraft in Korea. During Vietnam, he was the vice commander of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, and led ground-attack missions in the F-105. An incident in which he tried to protect two pilots who inadvertently broke rules of engagement led to a court-martial that ended his career; it was widely described as a miscarriage of military justice. Post-retirement, Broughton flew as a charter pilot, worked in the space shuttle program as a flight test and technical planning advisor, as an entrepreneur, and as an author. He wrote the memoir Rupert Red Two. (For more on Broughton, see The Man From Thud Ridge from the March 2012 issue of Air Force Magazine.)