Bob Pardo was a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in both the Vietnam War as well as the Cold War. He died at the age of 89, on December 5th. Bob Pardo was known for his unorthodox, dangerous, and risky maneuver to save fellow airmen after their plane started leaking fuel when it took fire over enemy territory.
Pardo was aware that the crew would be quickly captured or even killed if they ejected. He took extreme measures to force the damaged plane into safer terrain.
On March 10, 1967, Pardo, his First Weapons Officer, and their F-4C Phantom were on a bombing mission north of Hanoi. It was a Top Gun film, but it was real:
Pardo told the Air Force Veterans in Blue Program in 2015 that he knew they would be captured if he didn’t act. At that time, civilians who captured you would likely kill you on the spot.
Pardo chose to push Aman’s plane by using his nose against Aman’s tailhook. Aman’s tailhook is a retractable, underside hook that can be used for an arrested landing.
The two reached friendly territory after he managed to reduce the speed of descent by 1,500 feet/minute. Both crews safely ejected from their aircraft over the Laotian frontier and were rescued.
Bob Pardo, who left his mark in Air Force history for using an unorthodox maneuver, Pardo’s Push, to save his wingmen’s lives during a bombing mission over Vietnam, died Dec. 5. He was 89. https://t.co/dyi9OJmFSy
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) December 13, 2023
Pardo was initially reprimanded by the Air Force for damaging his aircraft. They even wanted to court-martial him. Twenty years later, they finally woke up and gave him the Silver Star in recognition of his heroism.
Pardo, years later, said: “I am just like any fighter pilot.” “I got lucky one day and did something never done before.”
It is “the most famous US Air Force maneuver that will live in military lore.” The 1986 painting is also hung in many AF offices:
The episode inspired a painting and still inspires “a new generation of air warriors”.
“For us, as fighter pilots, Lt. Col. Pardo is a shining example of what we should aspire towards,” said Maj. John Powers 310th Fighter Squadron Weapons Officer. “Throughout his entire career and particularly in combat, we strive to emulate his dedication, ingenuity, and dedication to his comrades as well as his service to the country and his work.”
Pardo served in the Air Force for 20 years between 1954 and 1974.
Pardo, born in Herne in Texas in 1934, began his Air Force Career in 1954, at the age of 19. He flew the Phantom in the Vietnam War after completing flight school. He logged 132 missions.
In 1974, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. His awards also include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Pardo’s wife Kathryn whom he wed on March 7, 1992, is still alive, as are his five children and ten grandchildren.
Pardo has passed away, but the legend of his feats lives on. Watch him explain it himself: