Military Aviation

FIRST F-16 VIPER PILOT TO DROP BOMBS IN AFGHANISTAN AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS RETIRES

Col. Kurt Gallegos has 462 combat hours in the skies over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, he was the first F-16 pilot to drop bombs in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks and logged over 4400 hours in the F-16

A legendary F-16 Viper pilot retired a few days ago.

The main picture in this post in fact was taken on Jun. 2, 2017 and shows Col. Kurt Gallegos, the 944th Fighter Wing (FW) commander, leading a four-ship formation with the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and F-15 Strike Eagle, during his fini-flight near Luke Air Force Base (AFB), Ariz..

The following day Gallegos celebrated 32 years of service at his retirement ceremony at Luke, with family, friends, guests, and over 200 Reserve Citizen Airmen.

As told by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr., 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article 944 FW commander retires after 32 years, Maj. Gen. Richard Scobee, Air Force Reserve Command vice commander, presided over the event and entertained the crowd with heartfelt humor and a look at moments through the years shared between the two.

“There is no place on this planet I’d rather be,” said Scobee. “’Huevos’ is a Colonel, an Airman, a fighter pilot, a commander, a cowboy, a father, a son, and he is also my friend and I am honored to be here for him.”

Gallegos ended his illustrious career with leaders and subordinates displaying acts of respect and conveying admiration for his sacrifices and accomplishments.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think I would be stationed with one of my heroes,” said then Airman Jeremy Meyers, 34th Fighter Squadron crew chief, in an article published in 2007, when he was stationed with then, Capt. Gallegos, at Hill AFB, Utah.

Maj. Gen. Richard Scobee, Air Force Reserve Command vice commander, and Col. Kurt Gallegos, the former 944th Fighter Wing commander, pose with Gallegos’ retirement certificate June 3 during the retirement ceremony at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

Meyers, who is now a staff sergeant stationed at Osan Air Base in the Republic of South Korea, was not able to attend Gallegos’ ceremony but sent his regards. He reflected on an Airshow in 1994 when he witnessed Gallegos flying as a member of the Air Combat Command 12th Air Force West Coast F-16 demonstration team.

“This pilot was the reason I wanted to the join the Air Force,” Meyers said.

During the ceremony Gallegos thanked the men and women of the 944th for their service and sacrifices during his command and gave Col. Bryan “OP” Cook words of encouragement.

“OP, congratulations, you just inherited the best job in the world,” said Gallegos.

He closed his remarks by paraphrasing a quote from the bible he learned from his mother early in life.

“Wealth is not measured by how much money you have, it’s measured by the family and friends you have around you,” Gallegos said. “And I’m the richest man in the world.”

Gallegos has 462 combat hours in the skies over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. He was the first F-16 pilot to drop bombs in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks and logged over 4400 hours in the F-16 and 1200 plus in the T-37.


(Ret.) Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944th Fighter Wing former commander, stands while Elvia Gallegos, his mother, pins on his retirement pin June 3 during a retirement ceremony at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr. and Staff Sgt. Lausanne Kinder / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

The ringmaster’s Grand Finale: Legendary German Ace Adolf Galland recalls his last combat mission

Legendary German Ace Adolf Galland By far the best-known of Germany’s World War II fighter… Read More

2 hours ago

Impressive video shows 509th Bomb Wing and 131st Bomb Wing performing mass fly-off of 12 B-2 Spirit bombers

Mass fly-off of 12 B-2 stealth bombers Filmed on Apr. 15, 2024 15 at Whiteman… Read More

2 hours ago

Alligator blocks USAF KC-135 Stratotanker, fights with FWC Officers at MacDill AFB

Alligator blocks KC-135 Stratotanker Taken on Apr. 22, 2024 the curious photos in this post… Read More

21 hours ago

South Korean F-4 Phantom IIs conduct final live-fire training of AGM-142 Popeye before retirement

South Korean F-4 Phantom IIs conduct final live-fire training Ahead of the official retirement of… Read More

1 day ago