Hurlburt bids farewell to an Air Commando legend

  • Published
  • By Capt. Thomas Long
  • 6th SOS
The Hurlburt Field community, and especially the 6th Special Operations Squadron, bid a heart felt farewell to Jerome "Jerry" Klingaman.

Gen. Norton "Norty" Schwartz, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, presided over Mr. Klingaman's retirement ceremony Jan. 11. Mr. Klingaman's retirement from federal civilian service concludes a career spanning more than 45 years of total service to the U.S. Air Force.

Mr. Klingaman grew up in Primghar, Iowa, and entered the Air Force in 1954 through the aviation cadet program, earning his commission and pilot wings in 1955. His first assignment was as a KC-97 pilot followed by multiple fighter assignments in the F-84 and F-100. During the Vietnam War, Mr. Klingaman served as an advisor flying AT-28s with the Royal Lao Air Force in Vientiane and Pakse Laos, then in the Raven program flying the O-1D.

Following his combat tours, Mr. Klingaman served in multiple operational, leadership and staff roles at Air Force Special Operations Forces Headquarters, as part of the U.S. mission to Thailand and at Hurlburt Field. He retired from active duty in 1976 as a lieutenant colonel.

Following his retirement from active duty, Mr. Klingaman returned in 1984 to again serve his beloved Air Force as a senior research fellow at the Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education. In this capacity, he wrote and published the Air Force publication on foreign internal defense as well as more than 10 other joint publications and Air Force doctrine documents. This is where, in 1985, he met and became friends with then-Major Schwartz as they worked together on doctrine and joint publications, some of which are still in use today.

Mr. Klingaman moved on to become a professor at the Air War College, and in January 1993 was asked to return to Hurlburt Field due to his doctrinal expertise. Shortly after his return to Hurlburt Field, he became instrumental in the creation of the 6th SOS, the only organization within the Department of Defense whose mission is to conduct foreign internal defense and combat aviation advisory missions.

Serving as the squadron's first operations officer, then as the director of strategy and plans, Mr. Klingaman planned, executed and directed combat aviation advisory missions worldwide in the fledgling squadron, from the beginning, all the way up until his retirement.

During his speech at the retirement ceremony, Mr. Klingaman pointed out into the crowd at the combat aviation advisors of the 6th SOS and said, "The reason I came back and the reason I stayed so long is because I loved being one of you."

During the ceremony the squadron's more than 200 advisors got to see every former squadron commander honor Mr. Klingaman in a unique way. Col. Norm Brozenick, former 1st Special Operations Wing commander and former 6th SOS commander, led the contingent of former squadron commanders as they presented Mr. Klingaman with a dagger plaque in honor of his retirement.

By 6th SOS tradition, the dagger plaque was normally presented to outgoing squadron members by Mr. Klingaman. At his ceremony, Colonel Brozenick and the former commanders paid special tribute to Mr. Klingaman by passing the plaque through each of their hands and stating their favorite one of Mr. Klingaman's "Coyote Rules." The last man who spoke and presented the plaque to Mr. Klingaman wasn't a former commander, but retired Maj. H. Scott Murphy, the holder of 6th SOS Coin #1.

At the end of the day, Mr. Klingaman said that he and Alice, his wife of more than 53 years, couldn't have wished for a better end to his career than spending the day with General Schwartz and all the wonderful folks that came out to join them.

With his retirement now behind him, Mr. Klingaman plans on spending his time at home with is wife and enjoying his passion for astronomy, playing the cello, building and flying his free-flight model airplanes and enjoying his wonderful family.

Congratulations Mr. Klingaman - a dedicated patriot, a national hero, combat aviation advisor and Air Commando icon - your advice, friendship and experience will be greatly missed by the advisors of the 6th SOS and the men and women of Air Force Special Operations Command.


1. If you run with the pack, play by pack rules, but keep your options open.

2. When you hunt alone, stealth is your best hope. You may only get one try.

3. Know the terrain cold, especially the escape routes.

4. Do not depend on others for ideas; they are rarely available.

5. Have your own ideas and keep plenty of them in reserve. Develop instincts.

6. Where instinct fails, build plans. Define your objectives. Refine your methods.

7. Success has three phases: extensive planning, exhaustive rehearsal and swift execution.

8. If you're in a fair fight, you didn't plan it properly.

9. Don't take stupid chances. Surviving is a professional endeavor.

10. Consider the consequences of your acts. Survival of the pack may be at stake.

11. Have a back-up plan if things go wrong. Keep it simple.

12. Know your limits and when to quit. If you can't kill two geese, kill one and make it home.

13. Most of us come to grief because we want too much.

14. If you run with bad dogs, you get shot with them.

15. Most traps are set on trails that are already out of bounds.

16. If you suspect you're out of bounds, you probably are.

17. Give quarter where it's due. You may need it yourself someday.

18. Never assume that no one wants you dead.

19. Threats rarely announce themselves. Stay alert. Anticipate the unexpected.

20. Be ready to move on if the game gives out.