Colonel (Ret.) Cesar Rodriguez served 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, racked up more than 3,100 fighter flight hours, 350 of which were combat hours during Desert Storm and Allied Force. He said his most memorable Air Force experience is, “going into combat and shooting down MiGs. Nothing compares to the adrenaline rush of doing your job. It’s the most thrilling and scariest thing I’ve done.” In 1981, he graduated from the Citadel and was commissioned into the Air Force, earning his wings the following year. While advancements in technology push modern air battles beyond visual range, Rodriguez has experienced the fear and vulnerability of being in a MiG radar lock and he had engaged enemy aircraft in battle, and is credited with three air-to-air MiG kills, the most any U.S. military aviator has achieved since the Vietnam War.
In remembering the effect those air battles had on him, he said, “Being in those battles, made me realize how big the Air Force team was that supported me. It’s very humbling. My job was probably the easiest. It was everyone else that had a decisive role in the outcome of those battles. And that includes my personal family.”