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Capt. Jack Wilton Weatherby

Capt. Jack Weatherby was one of the most experienced reconnaissance pilots in Southeast Asia, having flown PROJECT FIELD GOAL and ABLE MABLE missions earlier in the war. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Jack Weatherby was one of the most experienced reconnaissance pilots in Southeast Asia, having flown PROJECT FIELD GOAL and ABLE MABLE missions earlier in the war. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In November 1965 Maj. Gen. John Meyer presented the Air Force Cross on display to Capt. Jack Weatherby's widow, Barbara Weatherby, son Richard and daughter D’Ann. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In November 1965 Maj. Gen. John Meyer presented the Air Force Cross on display to Capt. Jack Weatherby's widow, Barbara Weatherby, son Richard and daughter D’Ann. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On July 29, 1965, Capt. Jack Weatherby volunteered to lead an extremely dangerous photo mission against a key surface-to-air missile (SAM) site deep in North Vietnam.

Forty miles from the target, Weatherby and his wingman, Maj. Jerry Lents, descended to 200 feet and accelerated to more than 600 miles an hour. As they neared the site, Weatherby's RF-101C was hit by ground fire, causing a fire under the fuselage. Knowing the importance of this mission, though, he continued on the photo run.

As they left the target area at low altitude, Weatherby's RF-101C exploded and crashed. In recognition of his extraordinary heroism and sacrifice, Capt. Jack Wilton Weatherby was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, the USAF's second highest honor.

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