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Phil Handley

Colonel (Ret.) Phil Handley is a 26 year Air Force veteran who served as a cargo and fighter jet pilot, and is credited with the highest speed air-to-air gun kill in the history of aerial combat. While leading a four-ship of F-4Es in a combat air patrol on June 2, 1972, northeast of Hanoi, Vietnam, his element was attacked by two MiG-19s. After firing all of his AIM-7 and AIM-4 missiles, which failed to guide, he destroyed a MiG-19 with a three-second burst from his 20mm M-61 Gatling gun. His aircraft was traveling at Mach 1.2, or almost 4.5 football fields per second, while only 500 feet above the ground. When asked about his achievement, Col. Handley recounted that he only did what he had always trained to do and offered that he owed much of his success to his family and the men and women of the Air Force. “I’m just a representative of all the men and women of the Air Force,” Col. Handley said. “I’ve been face-to-face with the hunter and I’m honored to still be here and a part of the Air Force today.” Col. Handley flew including 275 combat mission during two hours in Southeast Asia. Upon his retirement on June 1, 1974, his awards included 21 Air Medals, three Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Silver Star.