Happy Wednesday, FighterSweep Fans! We wanted to share a story with you that is very close to our hearts. Almost a year ago, we were on hand at Luke Air Force Base for a fini-flight. While the flight profile itself wasn’t particularly noteworthy–a low-level over Lake Powell, the pilot flying it certainly is. Our friend “SHOCK” was calling it a career and choosing to move on from flying the mighty Viper.
She was commissioned at the United States Air Force Academy in May 1995 after earning her Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science. After two years as an Intelligence Officer, she earned a spot in Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Laughlin AFB, TX, where she was Distinguished Graduate in her class, winning both the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Commander’s Trophy and Flying Award.
Once out of UPT, SHOCK made her way into the cockpit of the Lockheed-Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon. Her first assignment was to the Republic of Korea in the 80th Fighter Squadron, spending a year and a half as a “Juvat” (Crush ‘Em!) before receiving a follow-on assignment to the 14th Fighter Squadron at Misawa Air Base in Japan.
It was then, as a “Samurai” (Wood!) and Wild Weasel, that SHOCK deployed with the rest of her squadron in preparation for what became known as Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003. On the third night of the war, she found herself as part of a four-ship of Weasels escorting U.S. Navy F/A-18s and F-14s on strikes into Baghdad itself.
While setting up a SEAD combat air patrol, the Weasel flight received a Time-Sensitive Targeting (TST) mission: an S-125 Neva (NATO reporting name SA-3 “Goa”) Surface to Air Missile site needed to be destroyed immediately. Two of the jets would move in to kill the target while the other two provided escort and suppression. The weather was absolutely terrible that night, forcing the F-16CJs to a lower altitude than what they would normally prefer, greatly increasing the level of risk.
Through her NVGs, SHOCK could see all of the tracers in the obscene amount of Triple-A being hurled in their direction during ingress to the target area. Not only were the big guns firing at them, but several SAMs were also launched in their direction. The lead pilot in the four-ship had to jettison his wing tanks and narrowly avoided being smashed to bits by one of the missiles.
In the heat of battle, after kinematically defeating the SAMs, dodging the AAA, and returning fire with HARMs to suppress the radars targeting them, SHOCK and another pilot rolled in on the site and pickled off their bombs, destroying the SA-3. They were very, very low on gas after all of the gut-wrenching maneuvers to avoid being hit by the SAMs, so thankfully a tanker moved up from its track in the south to make sure the CJs were able to get fuel before they fell out of the sky.
With that particular target destroyed, a narrow corridor was opened a bit wider for coalition aircraft. For her actions that night, SHOCK received a Distinguished Flying Cross.
She finished her career as a Lieutenant Colonel and Command Pilot, flying the Viper operationally in Europe, Japan, Korea, Southwest Asia, and Africa. She served twice as an Instructor at Luke AFB, logging over 1,800 F-16 hours. In addition to 200 combat hours during Iraqi Freedom, SHOCK’s flying career includes combat experience in Operation Southern Watch, as well as missions over Libya in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn and the NATO mission Operation Unified Protector.
All in all, an absolutely amazing career flying the Viper. A tactically-sound, combat proven fighter pilot who is also a wife, a mother, and one of the best friends a person could ask for.
And what does SHOCK mean, you ask? It stems from her first assignment at Kunsan Air Base in Korea with the 80 FS, and more than aptly described her mindset and determination upon completing her combat mission-ready (CMR) upgrade: Satan Has Obviously Come to Korea…
Strength and Honor!