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USAF pilot honors grandfather's service in Lafayette Escadrille

By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, USAF

Nick Rutgers

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. - Growing up in Hawaii, Lt. Col. Nick Rutgers discovered, like most children, the deeper meaning of "The Aloha Spirit" -- the gift of interacting in the natural world with boundless possibilities. This aptitude only nurtured his biggest childhood dream to a grander significance.

"I can't remember wanting to do anything else besides being a pilot," said Rutgers, "and if given the chance, to fly fighter jets."

After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in May of 2000, the trajectory of his flying career first took him to Okinawa, Japan, and later to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, then eventually landing him here in Portland in 2012 with the 142nd Fighter Wing; all the while flying the F-15 Eagle fighter jet.

After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in May of 2000, the trajectory of his flying career first took him to Okinawa, Japan, and later to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, then eventually landing him here in Portland in 2012 with the 142nd Fighter Wing; all the while flying the F-15 Eagle fighter jet.

Prior to graduating from high school, Rutgers had already obtained his private pilot's license and got his first taste of military life at Camp Pendleton, California, with the Marine Corps "Devil Pups" program. The summer youth camp allows teenagers a chance to gain insight into the military lifestyle while learning citizenship skills in personal responsibilities, self-respect and other valuable life experiences.

Yet Rutgers' path toward becoming a military pilot did not inevitably begin at Camp Pendleton or the Air Force Academy. His family lineage is rich in service and sacrifice. Rutgers' grandfather fought in World War II as a member of the Marine Corps, and his father with the Army in Vietnam and later serving in the Hawaii National Guard. The love of flying and sense of service can be traced even further back, nearly 100 years ago when his great-grandfather, James Norman Hall, flew with the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I.

Read the whole story on DIVIDS:

 


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