"Brother served in World War II, uncle served in World War II, another brother served during the Korean War, and I just felt that I had to do my part, sooner or later..."
And that he did.
On March 10, 1967, in the heat of the Vietnam War, fighter pilot Bob Pardo and his back-seater, 1st. Lieutenant Steve Wayne, were on a combat mission to North Vietnam when his formation started taking fire.
"we knew it was going to be a tough mission, and over the target, the number four man was hit as we started the bomb run, and as we pulled off the target, our airplane was hit, and as we started to egress back to the tankers, we did a fuel check and it became obvious immediately, that the number four man was not going to make it out of North Vietnam."
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So with his friend's plane running out of fuel, Pardo, thinking quickly, engineered an aeronautical feat that would later bear his name.
"I told Earl, I says, put your tailhook down. He questioned it, but he went ahead and complied. We used the windshield of our airplane, up against the tailhook of his airplane to push him into Laos."
Putting all of the plane's weight on the tailhook, Pardo and Wayne were able to glide their counterparts out of harm's way.
"We pushed him approximately 88 miles. That was not friendly territory, but it was certainly a lot better than where we had come from."
Pardo pushed Earl Aman's plane to a dense jungle area where he saw both men eject, and open their parachutes, while he and Wayne headed for a special forces camp, 35 miles to the north.
"We got about halfway there, and we flamed out and both ejected."
Once they were on the ground, though, things didn't get much better.
"the guys in the other airplane were both chased by civilians the whole time they were on the ground. I had some people down the mountain from where I landed, that saw the airplane crash and so they started coming up the hill looking for me."
Trying to evade his pursuers, Pardo turned to find higher ground so he could be better seen by rescuers.
"I had gone up the mountain, and was on the ridgeline, found myself a very good place to hide, and just sat and waited until the helicopters arrived."
Once the men were back safely in U.S. custody, some of Pardo's superiors not so impressed with what he did.
"the commanding general was very upset, thinking that I had lost a good airplane. My boss, colonel Robin Oles, had to promise him there would be no recognition whatsoever, otherwise I was to be court-martialed. As Steve and I have always said, we weren't looking for any form of recognition. We just wanted to see those guys get home."
But recognition came, nevertheless. Twenty-two years later, Bob Pardo and Steve Wayne received the silver star for their heroic efforts that became known as Pardo's Push.
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