Bob Pardo, who made his mark in Air Force history for using an unorthodox maneuver, Pardo’s Push, to save the lives of his wingmen during a bombing mission during the Vietnam War, has died at 89.

Pardo, who died Dec. 5, is remembered as a war hero who championed the Air Force maneuver, Pardo’s Push, which saved him and his teammates during a daring mission in 1967.

His bravery earned him the Silver Star, which is awarded for “gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force,” according to the Air Force.

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On March 10, 1967, Pardo and weapons officer 1st Lt. Steve Wayne were on a bombing run against an enemy steel mill north of Hanoi in North Vietnam territory in an F-4C Phantom.

The pair were flying alongside Capt. Earl Aman and 1st Lt. Robert Houghton.

During the mission, ground fire damaged both Pardo’s and Aman’s aircraft, and both quickly lost fuel.

Without enough fuel to return to base, Pardo had to react quickly.

“I knew if I didn’t do anything, they would have to eject over North Vietnam into enemy territory, and that would have resulted in their capture for sure,” Pardo told the Veterans in Blue, an Air Force public affairs agency. 

“At that time, if you were captured by civilians, you were probably going to be murdered on the spot.”

“At that time, if you were captured by civilians, you were probably going to be murdered on the spot.”

— Bob Pardo

Hellenic Air Force

Pardo, acting quickly, positioned the plane to push the nose of the aircraft against the second plane’s tailhook, a retractable hook on the underside of the plane used to assist in landing.

Veterans in Blue said Pardo successfully decreased the rate of descent of the second jet by 1,500 feet per minute, making it back over the border to South Vietnam. 

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According to the Air Force, all four airmen were able to eject and lived to tell the tale. 

Pardo was reprimanded for his actions due to the damage caused to his plane by the maneuver.

However, he was later decorated for his quick thinking and heroic actions.

F-4G Phantom II Wild Weasel aircraft

Pardo was born in 1934 in Herne, Texas, and began his career in the Air Force at the age of 19 to become a fighter pilot. 

After flight school, he flew the F-4 Phantom during the Vietnam War and logged 132 flying missions.

“Being an Air Force veteran means a lot to me, especially having the honor of serving in combat.”

— Bob Pardo

“Being an Air Force veteran means a lot to me, especially having the honor of serving in combat,” he told Veterans in Blue. “It doesn’t give me any extra privileges, but I can guarantee you, it makes me feel better about who I am.” 

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