Vietnam Ace Visits Ellsworth

Retired Brig. Gen. Steve Ritchie, the Air Force’s only pilot ace of the Vietnam War, met with airmen at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., to discuss the value of integrity and what it means to be a leader. “There is nothing more important than integrity. If our word isn’t good, then there is nothing else,” said Ritchie during his six-day visit to the bomber base earlier this month. Ritchie said pilots today “are better educated and every bit as motivated” as they were in his time. Such attributes are essential since “I don’t think freedom has ever been more challenged than it is today,” he said, adding that freedom “must be defended at all costs.” Ritchie, then a captain, became an ace on Aug. 28, 1972, when he shot down his fifth MiG-21. (Ellsworth report by A1C Jarad A. Denton) (For more on Ritchie, see official USAF heritage piece.)