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Combat Story

Aug 5, 2023

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Today we have an amazing Combat Story from a 28 year F-16 fighter pilot, Jet Jernigan. Jet’s story is remarkable from how he stumbled into aviation to eventually lead the first 20 F-16s into Kuwait in the Gulf War to take out 10 Surface-to-Air (SAM) Missile sites and clear the way for Air Force bombers.

Jet and his 19 wingmen evaded over 40 SAM launches in just a 9 minute period in what can only be described as organized chaos. He would go head-to-head with SA-2s, SA-6s, and SA-9s in a span of just a few months.

As a member of the South Carolina Air National Guard, it seems unlikely that Jet’s unit was chosen ahead of other Active Duty Air Force squadrons to be the first F-16s into Kuwait. Fortunately, Jet and his team had just won Gunsmoke, the Air Force’s preeminent international aviation air-to-ground combat training exercise despite flying older F-16s against the Active Duty Air Force’s modernized variants, proving they were equally capable aviators.

Jet had many firsts in his career, including being the first Air National Guard pilot to attend the Air Force’s elite Fighter Weapons School where, with his high school degree and Air National Guard pedigree, finished as the honor graduate or Top Gun. Jet is an incredibly humble, accomplished, and god fearing veteran who continues to live out a Hollywood-like story. Stay tuned to the end of this episode to hear Colin Powell’s very own description of when Jet was interviewed by a reporter just after landing from his first mission in the Gulf War…it says it all. #f16 #fighterpilot #airforce #veteran =======

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Find Jet Jernigan Online: - Instagram @Jetf16


Show Notes: 00:00 - Intro 01:00 - Guest Introduction (Jet Jernigan) 02:40 - Interview begins 22:14 - What’s an A-7D aircraft? 28:45 - What’s it like flying the F-16? 33:53 - What’s it like to hit a bird (bird strike) at 450mph? 39:11 - What is Fighter Weapons School? 50:40 - What is Gunsmoke? 52:11 - Greatest answer to a media question in history…what’s it like to fly an F-16? 01:01:53 - Why did we have Desert Storm? 01:15:16 - Preparing for the Gulf War 01:23:43 - Taking off for the first F-16 flight of the Gulf War 01:39:31 - How to evade a Surface to Air Missile (the science behind it from a fighter pilot) 01:41:08 - An intense mission in Basra meeting an SA-9 and sinking a ship! 01:46:59 - Sinking a Navy ship with an F-16 01:56:04 - When Colin Powell talks about Jet Jernigan after the Gulf War 02:00:15 - What Jet carried on combat missions 02:03:19 - Sentimental Items 02:04:19 - Would you do it again? 02:07:30 - Listener comments and shout outs