By: Stanley F Jones, Lt Col (RET)
As Chief of the Torrejon Air Base, Spain Command Post from 1977 to 1980, I was associated with the F-4 Phantom from a command and control perspective.
During that period, the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon had the F-4E and then the F-4D assigned. I was again Chief of that Command Post from 1984 to 1988. During that period, I had two officers working for me who had been F-4 Weapons Systems Officers (WSOs). They both had lost those positions when the Wing transitioned from the F-4 to the single seat F-16.
One of the officers had flown the F-4 in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war and was forced to eject from his aircraft after it sustained major battle damage. The officer was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for that mission. He was also awarded the Purple Heart for back injuries he sustained during the ejection.
The second officer had flown as an F-4 WSO in Southeast Asia and also at Torrejon. On one training mission at Torrejon, his aircraft suffered the loss of its cockpit canopy while in flight and this officer directed the aircraft back to a safe landing at the base. He was awarded the Air Medal for his actions that day.