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United States Air Force Flag

August 28, 1972

The U.S. Air Force gets its first ace (a designation traditionally awarded for five enemy aircraft confirmed shot down) since the Korean War. Captain Richard S. Ritchie, flying with his “backseater” (radar intercept officer), Captain Charles B. DeBellevue, in an F-4 out of Udorn Air Base in Thailand, shoots down his fifth MiG near Hanoi.

Two weeks later, Captain DeBellvue, flying with Captain John A. Madden, Jr., shot down his fifth and sixth MiGs. The U.S. Navy already had two aces, Lieutenants Randall Cunningham and Bill Driscoll.

By this time in the war, there was only one U.S. fighter-bomber base left in South Vietnam at Bien Hoa. The rest of the air support was provided by aircraft flying from aircraft carriers or U.S. bases in Thailand.

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