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Fighting Falcon pilot earns Jabara Award

April 10, 2006 (by AFPN) - Capt. John Vargas, a 1996 graduate of the Air Force Academy, has won the 2006 Colonel James Jabara Award, presented annually by the Air Force for excellence in airmanship.

555th EFS OIF 2005 - Give 'Em Hell (Asif Shamim Collection)

Captain Vargas, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, completed 45 combat missions totaling more than 200 hours in operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Joint Forge. He provided close air support and employed ordnance on high-value targets such as Al Qaeda personnel, equipment and strongholds.

During one sortie, he and his wingman discovered a convoy under attack. Captain Vargas flew directly over the suspected enemy locations at high speed and low altitude while expending flares. This caused the enemy to stop engaging and allowed the convoy to move to safety.

He also handled three aircraft emergencies and was involved in developing F-16 mission tactics, techniques and procedures never done before, including urban close air support, convoy support and fight integration with Special Forces operations.

Captain Vargas is currently assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, as a flight commander and instructor pilot. He was a three-year football letterman at the academy, playing linebacker and on special teams, and helped the Falcons earn a trip to the 1995 Copper Bowl.

Jabara Award

The Jabara Award for Airmanship, named in memory of Colonel James Jabara, is awarded each year to the United States Air Force Academy graduate whose accomplishments demonstrate superior performance in fields directly involved with aerospace vehicles.

With 15 kills, Colonel Jabara was the second leading Air Force ace of the Korean War. Each year the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Association of Graduates present the Colonel James Jabara Award to an Academy graduate or graduates whose airmanship contributions are of great significance and set them apart from their contemporaries.

Each major air command, field operating agency - which includes the National Guard and Reserve - and direct reporting unit may submit one nomination for the award. The winner of the award is authorized to wear the Air Force Recognition ribbon.

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