This Air Force ace was unbeatable

The old black-and-white photo shows a young guy with a big, toothy grin climbing out of the cockpit of an F-4 Phantom, looking like Hollywood’s version of the classic fighter pilot.
That was Steve Ritchie in summer 1972, after the former Air Force Academy halfback became the only Air Force pilot “ace” of the air war in Vietnam – and perhaps the last one ever.
The 66-year-old retired brigadier general was reminiscing about that moment this week as he strolled across the Air Force Academy campus, where the past bumps into view at every turn.
In the distance was Falcon Stadium, where Air Force and Navy play today in a service academy rivalry game that serves as a poignant reminder of the ultimate shared mission.