30 November 1957 – Capt Benny Lacombe is killed when he unsuccessfully attempts to bail out of Lockheed U-2A, 56-6704, Article 371, 13 miles SE of Laughlin AFB. Ejection seats had not yet been fitted to U-2s at this point. The history of the U-2 program is fraught with fatalities and crashes. “CIA pilots Wilburn S.
Richard G. Head
RG Head began flying when he was 15 in high school. He got his private pilot’s license at 17 and entered the United States Air Force Academy with the second class in 1956. Graduating in 1960 he finished first in his pilot training class and was awarded the Commander’s Trophy. In 1962 he won the Top Gun award at Advanced Gunnery Training, flying F-100s. His first operational assignment was with the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, where he participated in deployments to Japan, Korea and Turkey.
Volunteering for Vietnam he entered A-1 Skyraider training in 1964 and was assigned to the 602d Air Commando Squadron, Vietnam. He flew 325 combat missions over North and South Vietnam, winning the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters.
Returning to the United States he made numerous public presentations on aviation and became an Instructor Pilot in the F-4 Phantom II before being assigned to graduate school at Syracuse University. In 1969 he completed his Master’s degree and PhD in Political Science. He taught International Relations and Defense Policy at the Air Force Academy from 1970 to 1973 and edited a major textbook, American Defense Policy, 3d. ed. He was reassigned to flying as an Operations Officer in Thailand and Squadron Commander of the 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which descended from the 90th Aero Squadron, in World War I.
General Head was a distinguished graduate of the National War College in 1977, where he wrote a book with Robert MacFarlane. Crisis Resolution: Presidential Decisionmaking in the Mayaguez and Korean Tree Confrontations. The following year he was a Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, and authored an article in Foreign Affairs magazine.
In 1978 he was the Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, following which he joined the Joint Staff, where.as the Special Assistant to the Director he managed the agenda for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and attended approximately 1,000 JCS meetings. Selected for Brigadier General in 1983 he served as the Deputy Commander, Fifth Allied Tactical Air Force, Vicenza, Italy. He retired in 1987 with 27 years of service and 3,000 hours flying time.
After retiring from the US Air Force in 1987, he joined a civilian systems engineering firm, SRS Technologies.. He spent the next 20 years conducting missile and space engineering consulting and environmental engineering as Vice President of SRS Technologies. In this capacity he wrote extensively and provided consulting engineering services to US Space Command, Army Space Command and the U.S. Navy where he won two $100 million contracts for environmental planning for the Navy’s Pacific and Atlantic Commands, conducting analysis and providing advice on Navy, Marine Corps and Special Warfare SEAL air-to-air, surface and underwater gunnery ranges worldwide.
In retired life, he builds dollhouses for his granddaughters and large, scale model aircraft. His five-foot Fokker Dr. I hangs in the Coronado, CA, Library. His six-foot Albatros D. II, eight-foot Hawker Hurricane Mod I and smaller A-1E Skyraider are in the San Diego Air & Space Museum. After completing the Albatros D. II, he wrote a biography about its most famous pilot, Oswald Boelcke: Germany’s First Ace and Father of Air Combat. The book has nearly sold out the first two printings in hardback, and the paperback version will be published in July 2019. The book has been translated into German and is available worldwide through Amazon.
He and his wife, Carole, have been traveling extensively to Britain, France, and Germany, where he has spoken at the Luftwaffe’s 31st Tactical Fighter Wing “Boelcke” on several occasions. He has written articles for the Wing’s base magazine, lectured to the Boelcke Tradition Association and traveled with the Wing to Bapaume, France, to dedicate a memorial to Oswald Boelcke in the location where he fell in 1916. His latest presentations were in Australia and New Zealand.