An Air Force legacy of valor from father to son

A legacy of valor from father to son
Bob Wright, Retired United States Air Force F-16 pilot, poses for a photo. After retirement his son Jett followed in his footsteps, becoming an F-16 pilot and getting the chance to fly the same aircraft. Photo credit DVIDS

“I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor.”

Bob Wright, Retired United States Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, became the first in his family to recite these words from the Airman’s Creed and start his own legacy. Years later, Bob's son Capt. Jett Wright, 367th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot, followed in his father’s footsteps when he recited the very same creed.

Podcast Episode
Eye on Veterans
Cloud Warriors: How a Marine is hiring vets for awesome tech jobs
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

“[My father] was a pretty major role model, he really influenced me into joining the military and flying the F-16,” said Jett.

In 1994, Bob was deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy, during Operation Deny Flight. He conducted patrolling missions over central Bosnia, where he flew an F-16 with the tail number 2137 while assigned to the 526th Fighter Squadron based out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

“It started out as a mission no one wanted to take,” said Bob.

On February 28, 1994, Bob engaged in NATO’s first ever combat mission. He was directed to perform an offensive counter air mission to enforce the U.N.’s “no fly” sanctions over Bosnia-Herzegovina. His actions resulted in the first “triple kill” on a single mission since the Korean War in 1953.

The F-16 was later reassigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano AB. Aircraft 2137 is still flying operationally today. Bob contacted the Triple Nickel in hopes to have one more look over the aircraft while on a family vacation to Europe, the 555th, 367th and 93rd leadership had other plans. They worked together to allow Bob’s son, Jett, a chance to fly 2137, following in his father’s footsteps even further.

“If there was one airplane I wanted to fly, this would definitely be the one,” said Jett. “This was a big thank you to him for everything my dad has done for me, this is what I grew up around. This plane had a lot of history for our family.”

Lt. Col. Rolf Tellefsen, 555th FS commander, took to the Italian skies with Jett and showed him the area.

“I think about the generational aspect of what we do here,” said Tellefsen. “We are always passing on what we're doing and we’re making the next group of us better, ready to replace us.”

Jett mentions the emotions that flowed through while walking up to the aircraft that he read stories about, knowing it was the same one his father flew. Jett landed after his flight and could only think ‘wow that really just happened’.

“To actually watch him take off was very emotional, it was the highlight of my life,” said Bob.