Col. Ron "Gunman" Moore (Ret.)


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Ron Moore sitting in the cockpit of his A-10A when he was with the Michigan ANG at Battle Creek. Please give us an overview of your military career and tell the readers a little about yourself? Do you have any hobbies?


  • USN Enlisted weather guesser, 1967-1971
  • Private/Commercial/Instrument 1969-1971
  • B.S. Embry Riddle Aero. Univ, 1971-1973
  • USAF OTS 1974, Navigator School, Mather AFB CA
  • F-4 (WSO) RTU MacDill AFB, Hill AFB
  • UPT Laughlin AFB 1977-1978, F-4 RTU George AFB
  • Nellis AFB 79-82, converted to F-16's 1980 at Hill
  • 50 TFW, 496 TFS Hl. 50 TFW, 496 TFS Hahn 1982-1985, Ramstein (USAFE/IG) attached to 313 TFS at Hahn 1985-1988.
  • Michigan Air Guard 1988 with the 171st FIS, back to F-4D's for 18 months then initial cadre F-16 IP in F-16ADF still with the 171st FIS. Became the DO/OG
  • Converted to C-130's in 1993, flew them 18 months with the 171st AS
  • Then 110FW/CC at Battle Creek, Michigan and flew the A-10 for 2.5 years
  • Retired in 1997

Hobbies: Golf (6 handicap), Instruct in L-39's, Flying our airplane and travel. I have 3 and 8 year old daughters that take up hobby time. What's the story behind your callsign "Gunman" ?

Ron: Gunner on the ground, Gunman airborne. When I was an F-4 WSO, my front seater called me the tail gunner, I referred to him as the nose gunner. We called each other Gunner, it stuck. In Germany, the Germans couldn't do Gunner, they thought it was Gunther so I used Gunman, it's clear and easy to understand, even for German controllers.

171st Fighter Squadron (J.W. Groenestein collection) You have quite an interesting career. What assignment/squadron was your favorite?

Ron: Most memorable is the 3 years (1990-1993) I flew Vipers in the Guard in an Air Defense unit, doing nothing but air to air in the F-16ADF. It was a block 15 converted to fire AIM-7's. It was a spectacular airframe that with a C model radar would have been unbelievable. What was your most memorable time with the F-16 both positive and/or negative?

Ron: Most positive: the air defense missions in 171st FS. We flew nothing but air to air every day. It was heaven. Being the DO/SEFE/IP/FCF helped add to the experience. Most negative: watching my (F-16) ACM opponents collide 2000 feet behind me. One squadron mate died, the other was ejected and survived. What is a DO, and what type of job is it?

Ron: Director of Operations, later was renamed Operations Group Commander. Responsible for all Operations. In an Air Guard unit it was a blend of the active Squadron Commander role and OG since there was only one squadron but you still had all of the wing staff functions of an active wing, but far fewer people.

171st Fighter Interceptor Squadron F-16A ADF's. (GD photo) What do you like best about the F-16?

Ron: Everything. It has one of everything a really good fighter needs one of, unlike some of the tennis court sized fighters the USAF/USN think are required. It took years of experience in the F-4 to become a "lethal pilot", it takes a 2LT a few months in an F-16. Do you have any suggestion on how to improve the F-16?

Ron: Provide them to retirees! Do you have particularly fond memories of a specific deployment or exercise?

Ron: Trip to Zaragosa Spain and Incirlik Turkey for a month at a time from Hahn. Chasing drug smugglers at night using NVG's (Night Vision Goggles) in Panama. Trips to Shearwater, Nova Scotia, Canada from Michigan. Being stuck in the Azores for a month while headed to Israel with their new F-16C's. Air Shows in England, Scotland, Ireland. F-16 Deployments to WSEP at Tyndall AFB, FL. to shoot live missiles. Flying the F-4 single seat from Langley to Selfridge, Michigan.

Ron Moore in the early F-16 years. What did a typical/successful drug fighting sortie in Panama involve?

Ron: We would be scrambled, find the target, shadow them until we handed them off to another aircraft or agency. It was fun, hundreds of miles out to sea, all blacked out, wearing NVG's, and flying a loose trail formation on a blacked out airplane with the wingman 15 miles in trail stacked high for radio relay. You mentioned F-16 deployments to WSEP at Tyndall AFB, FL - how often does a pilot get to fire live missiles or drop live ordinance in the USAF/ANG?

Ron: Depends. We were an air-to-air unit so we went nearly every year. Some years there were missiles to be shot, other years there weren't. Most guys only got one shot. Stuck in the Azores for a month while headed to Israel with their new F-16C's - what happened to cause this?

Ron: Wingman's flight control anomaly. Nobody "owned" the jet so nobody wanted to fix it! It didn't belong to General Dynamics, they had given it to the pilot. The USAF didn't own them, never did, and the Israeli's didn't own them, they hadn't been delivered. There isn't much to do in the Azores, we played a lot of golf. How did you end up in a program delivering F-16's to Israel?

Ron: Volunteered. I was a staff puke at USAFE/Ramstein and got permission from my boss, the IG, to go. He didn't plan on my being gone for a month. So how many F-16s did you deliver?

Ron: I never got there! My boss called me home, someone else got tapped for the final leg. When delivering F-16s to a nation, how many pilots would be involved and how many in the flight? And any deliveries to other nations?

Ron: We took off with six. I don't know how often, I was only involved once. But did deliver to other states, the Air National Guard in Texas! (Editors note: the deliveries to Israel would've been part of the Peace Marble II FMS program) In your Air Force career you also had extensive experience on other military aircraft types such as the F-4, C-130, and A-10. How do they compare to the Viper?


F-4 Phantom:

Ron Moore boarding an F-4.
It was really fun to fly the F-4, it was a big, powerful, stable airplane that would bite an inexperienced guy in a heart beat. Going to the F-16 for 8 years, then back to the F-4 was educational. When I converted from the F-4 to the F-16 it was readily apparent how technology had built a much more capable fighter. But, going back to the F-4 after being an experienced F-16 IP impressed on me what an F-16 could do that an F-4 couldn't. I used to try F-16 pirouettes, lag turn fights, etc, and other F-16 maneuvers in the F-4 which usually resulted in my spinning the Phantom several times a month!
C-130 Hercules:
The C-130 can't be compared to an F-16; you can't put 65 grunts in the back of an F-16 and land on a 2000x60 dirt runway. Nor can you bring back 100 cases of wine from Germany in an F-16.... The Herc is great fun, try max performing anything else that big and see how close to the edge of the envelope you're allowed to get, we max performed the Herc all the time. The C-130 can't be replaced.
A-10 Warthog:
Equally, you can't compare the A-10 to the F-16, they were built to perform different missions. Nothing has been built to replace it either, nothing else is as good at what it does. Turn on the 30mm gun one time, watch a target blow up 18,000 feet away, and you'll be sold. Your Guard unit, the 171st Fighter Squadron, converted from the F-16 ADF to the C-130 and became the 171st Airlift Squadron. How did the conversion go?

Ron: Our Guard unit (171st FS) was converted to C-130's during the drawdown in the mid 90's. When you go to fighter training, there's different courses for inexperienced pilots, experienced fighter pilots, and pilots who have been out of the aircraft for a short while and need a refresher. C-130's aren't like that. I was an experienced F-16 IP, and in academics, sat between a 2LT straight out of UPT and a highly experienced C-130 IP who had been out of the cockpit 18 months! We were all in a 6 month course! Classroom work was as you would expect, but there's many simulators in Herc school. Flying was fun, but long! We flew with two student A/C's, each would fly 2 hours, then swap the left seat for the bunk!

When the 171st FS in Selfridge ANGB, Michigan converted to the C-130E, it became the 171st Airlift Squadron and gave up it's F-16 ADF's. Ron Moore in the pilot seat also converted to the C-130. What was your first flight in the C-130 like ?

Ron: My first flight was in a C-130E. It's easy to fly, just hands full of throttle, props, and condition levers. Learning to coordinate with 3-8 other crew members came easily. Hardest part was going form a cockpit where everything is at arms reach and the critical stuff is found outside to a big cockpit with everything "in your face"! I suddenly needed glasses! Converting to another aircraft, what difficulties and advantages does an experienced pilot have over someone going to that aircraft straight from pilot school?

Ron: Air sense and basic systems knowledge. After a few conversions, they become "just another airplane." I can, and do, now fly anything. It's the old houses bigger, houses smaller routine... they're all really the same, except the F-16. The Viper doesn't fly like an airplane.

Converting from the C-130 to the A-10, I got to fly T-38's for two flights then went to Tucson for training. I was in a Colonel training program, one IP, one airplane. Very long days; one-on-one academics, fly, then self study with sound on slide and other materials in my room at night. As a hobbyyou mentioned playing golf (which probably came in useful in the Azores), but also flying and instructing in an L-39. Could you tell us some more about this?

Ron: There's about 200 L-39's in the US. I met an owner several years ago and have since flown several aircraft. I show them aerobatics, advanced handling, formation and introductory BFM/ACM. It's the only way I've found so far to stay involved. What advice would you give future pilots?

Ron: Start early, stick with it.

Ron Moore as a weapons system officer at MacDill AFB in the mid 70's. Any words of advice to any of our young readers wanting to join the military?

Ron: Go to your nearest Air Guard base and talk to them. The USAF is great fun, the Air Guard is greater. Thanks for the interview!

- Col. Ron Moore was interviewed online by Jon Somerville in June of 2004 -

Visitor Comments
This Guy Was A straigh Up Bada$$
hickerson, Dec 12, 2009 - 05:23 AM

Was crewing in the 496th at Hahn when Maj Moore was there. We all had mad respect for him!!

He was awesome
Pam Padavan Paulin, Jan 25, 2022 - 07:11 PM

Had a blast working with him when he was assigned to the 171st...

I also remember the worst day of his career....

He is truly missed. RIP Sir.

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