Brig. Gen. Richard Stephen “Steve” Ritchie, USAF

Air & Space Smithsonian - - In The Museum -

“I miss com­bat fly­ing to this day,” says Ritchie (pho­tographed with an F-4 Phan­tom at Elling­ton Air­port in Hous­ton), who logged more than 4,000 hours dur­ing his Air Force ca­reer. As an F-4 pi­lot in Viet­nam, he shot down five Mig-21s. “Dur­ing the minute or so of a dog­fight, most of what we did was due to in­stinct, re­flexes, study of the lat­est in­tel­li­gence, and on-the-job train­ing,” he says. Ritchie is also quick to credit oth­ers: “I would not be a fighter ace had it not been for tens of thou­sands of mil­i­tary and civil­ian per­son­nel in the en­tire sup­port com­mu­nity.” Since re­tir­ing in 1999, Ritchie has trav­eled the world, giv­ing lec­tures on how to suc­ceed.

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