James Rangitsch

Veterans in Blue 2017

Retired Master Sgt. James Rangitsch poses for a photo for the Air Force's 2017 Veterans in Blue series, 22 May, 2017. Rangitsch served as an air traffic controller and earned a purple heart for his efforts to provide first aid to those wounded in the Khobar Towers terrorist attack in 1996. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

James Rangitsch entered the Air Force in 1979 at age 18. In 1996 he deployed to Dharan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Southern Watch. On the evening of June 25, 1996, he was relaxing in his dorm room in the Khobar Towers when terrorists detonated a bomb outside the compound. Surviving the attack, Rangitsch administered first aid to numerous victims and was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries. Later, Rangitsch earned the 1996 Air Force Watch Supervisor of the Year award and served four more years of active duty before retiring in 2000 as a master sergeant. In 2002, he began working for the Federal Aviation Administration as an air traffic controller, and in 2012 returned to the Department of Defense to serve as a civilian air traffic controller at Westover Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts. Since March 2014, Rangitsch has worked as an air traffic controller and watch supervisor in the 509th Operations Support Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.