Eagle Profile

Colonel Jacksel “Jack” Broughton was born in Utica, New York, in 1925. He graduated from high school in Rochester and received an appointment to attend West Point, where he graduated in 1945 with his pilot’s wings and Army Air Force second lieutenant bars. His first assignment put him on the frontline of the Cold War in postwar Germany, where he flew P-47s and P-51s until his return to the U.S. in 1948. Broughton joined the jet set while participating in the founding of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School. His currency in several fighter aircraft and his gunnery and bombing proficiency proved valuable in the hurry-up panic to prepare replacement pilots for combat in Korea, and then as a combat leader. Broughton flew a Korean tour in P-80s, and a second tour in F-84s, that included both ground support and air-to-air combat missions against MiG-15s. He also led combat testing of the experimental Oerlicon anti-tank rocket. He commanded one of the first squadrons to be equipped with the swept wing F-84F, and his team won the transcontinental Bendix Trophy Race in 1954. After the race, he accepted command of the Air Force aerobatic demonstration team, the Thunderbirds. Broughton is the only team member to ever lead the Thunderbirds in three different aircraft; the straight wing F-84G, the swept wing F-84F, and the F-100C, as the team became the world’s first supersonic acrobatic team. After Air Command and Staff College came an Air Defense weapons evaluation tour, followed by advisor duty with the Turkish Air Force. Back in the US, he coordinated west coast Air Force, Navy and Air Guard defense activities out of Hamilton AFB, CA before heading for Minot, ND, for three winters commanding the F-106 equipped Spittin’ Kittens of the 5th Fighter Squadron. Upon National War College graduation, he proceeded to Southeast Asia for two tours at the wing command level, while flying the F-105 during Rolling Thunder attacks against Hanoi. Broughton retired from the Air Force in 1968 as a Colonel with 216 single engine fighter combat missions, 43 separate awards and decorations, including four Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars and the presidentially awarded Air Force Cross, the highest Air Force decoration, awarded for outstanding individual heroism in combat. His books, Thud Ridge which currently sold over 400,000 copies and was on the US Air Force Chief Of Staff’s reading list for four years, and Going Downtown, which currently sold over 50,000 copies, both discuss the air war over Southeast Asia. His just released book, Rupert Red Two, details the golden era of fighter aviation, from the last of the prop fighters through the first of the jets. Broughton’s proudest accomplishment was being combat ready in every Air Force fighter from the P-47 to the F-106, which includes the P-51, F-80C, F-84E, F-84F, F-86A, F-86D, F-100C, F-101B, F-102, F-104, and F-105D. In retirement, Broughton continued flying, returning to aerospace with the Rockwell B-1flight test team, then serving as a manager of checkout operations on the space Shuttle Endeavor. Colonel Jack Broughton has remained current as a speaker, television and radio specialty commentator, author and consultant.

Years Honored:


2009 Lithograph

Lithograph Setting(s):

Colonel Jacksel M. "Jack" Broughton's distinguished Air Force career spanned 26 years. He served four combat tours in Korea and Vietnam, flying 216 combat missions. Broughton was combat ready in every fighter from the P-47 to the F-106 and his numerous commands included the Thunderbirds.  He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars, and the presidentially awarded Air Force Cross, the Air Force's highest award for individual heroism in combat. Colonel Jack Broughton has authored three books, including Thud Ridge, which was on the CSAF's reading list.