Guard ‘T-bird’ pilot wheels enthusiasm at nation’s capital [repost]

A colleague of mine, a very talented photographer, asked me recently if I ever took portraits of the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds, and I did not think I had. But when he mentioned Colonel Routt with the Nevada Guard, I suddenly remembered this story one day, many years ago. Apparently, they were looking for stories and photos of the Colonel for when he takes command of the 177th Fighter Wing. I often wonder about the outcomes of the people I spotlighted, but their names and faces are a blur. This was just one man that I interviewed for an assignment and then never saw again. My congratulations to you, Colonel Routt.


ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md (AFNS) –As acrobatic aircraft buzzed overhead as part of the run-up to the air show here May 16, Lt. Col.Derek Routt paid more notice to the parked, baby-blue and white business jets on the ground; aircraft used by the nation’s elected and military leaders.

The first Air National Guard officer to serve on the Air Force Thunderbirds was enjoying his time in the nation’s capital May 14. It was his eighth event since joining the team.

A trim, operations officer in his late 30s, Routt wore the dark-blue flight suit of the Thunderbirds with nary a thread out of place. So there was “no distinguishing between a Guard, Reserve or active-duty Thunderbird,” he said.

“This is a true-to-form, Total Force team,” he said. “When I tell people that I am a guardsman it brings a lot of questions, and that allows me to talk…

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By Eartheditor

Hello. I am a prior U.S. Navy sailor and photojournalist serving on active duty with the National Guard – combined, for more than 24 years. This blog features my more memorable stories and photos from that news pile as well as creative writing. All images and stories are by me unless otherwise credited. I hope to backlog more as well as write new stories. Thank you so much.
- Mike R. Smith

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