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Bruce Gordon

Bruce Gordon

Bruce Gordon's life was formed under the pressure of wars - both hot and cold - his flying years were filled with technological leaps in aviation radar and infrared technology.

Bruce was a child in 1941 in Hawaii and remembers the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was on a refugee convoy on Christmas Day, 1941, watching Navy ships test their guns and depth charges. He returned by convoy to Hawaii in 1943, after the Battle of Midway convinced his father that we would win the war and it was safe for his family to return. He shined shoes for soldiers and sailors who were headed for the war in the Pacific, and listened to stories from submariners about attacking Japanese ships.


After WW II, Bruce and family moved to Hong Kong in optimistic hopes of booming postwar business. He attended one of the best British schools, learning science and world history. The Chinese Civil War intervened, business opportunities collapsed, and he was a refugee again. He returned to the USA for school and college, joining AFROTC as the Korean War raged. He graduated from Tufts University in 1956 and went on active duty in 1956, as radar technology entered aviation and rapidly improved, adding infrared.

Bruce trained in the F-86L, a radar version of the famous Sabre, then went to Alaska to the much improved radar and infrared systems of the F-102. In Alaska he met some excellent pilots while flying in the squadron commanded by Joe Rodgers, an amazing, aggressive leader and test pilot.

Joe Rodgers put a sign over our Squadron Operations: "ONLY THE SPIRIT OF ATTACK, BORNE IN A BRAVE HEART HEART, WILL BRING SUCCESS TO ANY FIGHTER AIRCRAFT, NO MATTER HOW HIGHLY DEVELOPED THE AIRCRAFT MAY BE". A quote from German Ace, Adolf Galland in WW II, which still applied to jet fighters with radar and infrared systems.

In the wide, uncontrolled airspace of Alaska, Bruce put the F-102 radar systems to maximum use against our own Strategic Air Command bombers using their strongest ECM techniques. He learned to work through ECM and clouds of chaff to get a simulated "kill" on the bombers. Following the book procedures didn't work -- you needed the SPIRIT OF ATTACK to get through! He watched other pilots fail because they didn't have the SPIRIT OF ATTACK. Bruce also met the Russians over the ice between Alaska and Siberia.

Bruce learned radar and infrared in the F-102 and was transferred the much more advanced systems of the F-106. The F-106 looked like the F-102, but had a much more powerful engine - you pushed up the throttle and the airspeed went right up with it! The F-106 used advanced radar and the SAGE national defense radar network. Bruce found that the SPIRIT OF ATTACK still applied. Bruce was selected to test the F-106 against a maximum performance target, a BOMARC missile, in a front attack with a closing rate of 2,000 miles per hour -- and killed it with one infrared missile! The war in Vietnam got hot, and the Air Force discovered that the F-106 was a great fighter, beating the F-4 in some tests. We had an emergency program to train F-106 pilots in fighter-on-fighter tactics. Bruce flew supersonic mock dogfights against the F-104 and won!

The F-106 was modified for aerial refueling, and soon we were in South Korea running BARCAP (Barrier Combat Air Patrol) to defend piston-engined EC-121 recon aircraft from North Korean MiGs. Bruce was in a flight of four F-106s off the east coast of North Korea when 20 MiGs took off and turned to attack the EC- 121. The four F-106s armed their missiles and turned into the 20 MiGs, ready to fight. The MiGs turned back, denying Bruce is best chance at fighter combat.

Shortly thereafter, there was an incident related to President Nixon's "Madman Nuclear Alert of 1969". This critical event is being lost to history, but Nixon staged a secret Alert to scare the Russians (Soviets) at about the same time that Russia was planning to invade China. The history of the events is shrouded in secrecy, but Bruce found a Russian fleet off the east coast of North Korea. Following his SPIRIT OF ATTACK, he flew down and photographed the Russian ships until they turned their big guns at him. He returned to report what he had seen, and found that the SPIRIT OF ATTACK does not go well in international relations. He was chewed out by the Commander, who called it "SOMETHING BIG".

Bruce flew his F-106 back to the USA and transitioned to the F-100 for combat in Vietnam. The F-100 was a step backward in technology. However, the F-100 had four 20mm cannons and carried bombs. Bruce earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and multiple Air Medals for 132 combat missions in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Bruce returned to the USA and went into Air Force Systems Command, where he was an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and helped develop electronic warfare systems for our upcoming F-15 and F-16 fighters. He retired and went to Saudi Arabia to run a small business airline for a Saudi company.

Bruce's years of flying fighters in the midst of changing technology and international conflict provided a view from the cockpit which few others had seen -- so he wrote the book, "THE SPIRIT OF ATTACK". He now lives in Kentucky and has been nominated for the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

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