Colonel (Ret.) Charles B. DeBellevue had a passion for flight at an early age that drove him to join Air Force ROTC at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He joined at an unsettled time in American history -- the Vietnam War. Commissioned in 1968, the New Orleans native was assigned to the infamous “Triple Nickel” 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was stationed at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand as an F-4 Phantom weapons system officer. DeBellevue accumulated 550 combat hours, tallied six MiG kills during the war and was one of only five Vietnam fighter “Aces.” During air engagements, “Nothing outside the cockpit was important,” he said. DeBellevue eventually became a command pilot, collecting more than 3,000 flying hours. Among many awards, he earned the Air Force Cross, three Silver Stars, three Legions of Merit, and six Distinguished Flying Crosses. He said the Air Force cultivated great integrity, discipline, leadership, teamwork and training -- traits he will carry with him for the rest of his life. DeBellevue lives in Edmond, Okla. with his wife. Though he has retired from the Air Force, the service is still part of his life. He volunteers within the Air Force community, speaking with active duty and ROTC units about his experiences in the Air Force.