Three USAF F-4 Airmen, Capts. Charles "Chuck" DeBellevue, Richard "Steve" Ritchie and Jeffrey Feinstein, became aces during the Southeast Asia War. Ritchie was the only USAF pilot ace (DeBellevue and Feinstein, backseat weapon system officers [WSO], received equal credit for victories as the pilot in front).
The nature of the air war in Southeast Asia is reflected in the many fewer aces as compared to previous conflicts. During OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER from 1965-1968, the small VPAF fighter force generally avoided air-to-air combat, and from the fall of 1968 to the spring of 1972, there was no large-scale air campaign against North Vietnam.
Not until OPERATION LINEBACKER started in May 1972 did North Vietnamese MiGs fully engage in air-to-air dogfights, and the three USAF Southeast Asia War aces scored all their victories between April and October 1972.
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