USAF Thunderbird #1: The Air Force's top ambassador and warrior on life, loss, combat and more--John "Brick" Caldwell

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By Justin "HASARD" Lee. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Lt. Col. John "Brick" Caldwell is the Commander and Leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. I had never met Brick before this interview, but several pilots I've flown with have a tremendous amount of respect for him. After our conversation, I do as well. He is an accomplished warrior with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He has over 660 combat flight hours, a Distinguished Flying Cross, and is a graduate of the USAF weapons school. He served for several years in the Air Force's Test and Evaluation Squadron, overseeing the latest fighter aircraft technology. He now leads the 130-person Thunderbird organization and flies the number 1 jet.
Brick is a world-class professional who is also a great communicator. He talks about some emotionally difficult topics as well lessons he's learned along the way. I think everyone can take away something from this interview. Feel free to share this episode with someone who you think would benefit most.
In this episode, we talk about, in order:

  • His first passion for aviation (minute 0:00)
  • Turning a dream into reality (minute 5:00)
  • Lessons learned (minute 6:00)
  • Deployment to Iraq (minute 07:00)
  • Losing a friend in combat (minute 10:10)
  • Taking enemy life (minute 19:15)
  • Deployment to Afghanistan (minute 21:15)
  • The mission he received a Distinguished Flying Cross (minute 24:00)
  • Combat Lessons learned (minute 28:15)
  • Test and evaluation experience (minute 31:00)
  • F-16 Viper evolution (minute 37:15)
  • Decision to join Thunderbirds (minute 41:45)
  • Being Thunderbird #1 (minute 50:15)
  • His crazy schedule (minute 53:00)
  • Thunderbird debriefs (minute 57:00)
  • Looking forward to most this season (minute 58:30)

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This episode was edited by Trevor Cabler
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