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Allen Schaefer ©Stars and StripesTan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, August, 1972: Capt. Richard S. "Steve" Ritchie stands next to his F-4D Phantom jet after returning to Tan Son Nhut from a mission over North Vietnam in which he shot down his fifth MiG jet, making him the Air Force's first Vietnam War fighter pilot ace. Ritchie and Navy Lt. Randall "Duke" Cunningham were the only U.S. pilot aces during the war; three Weapon System Officers (including Ritchie's WSO, Capt. Charles DeBellevue) also earned that distinction under the policy in effect at the time.

RELATED MATERIAL: A 1972 story about Capt. Steve Ritchie.


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