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Third generation Air Force pilot supporting OEF

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson
  • 169th FW/PA-Deployed
Each sortie U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael "Midnight" Rose flies over Afghanistan he adds to the Air Force's rich history and his family's. As an F-16 pilot currently assigned to the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron here, he is the third member of his family to fly in combat for the Air Force.

This is Rose's second combat deployment and his first in Afghanistan. His first deployment was during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. And while deploying in the Air Force is commonplace, what is unique is he has the distinction of joining both his father and grandfather as having flown combat missions for the U.S Air Force.

A 1992 graduate of Texas A&M University, Rose became an AWACS weapons controller after he received his commission into the Air Force. He flew with AWACS until he was accepted into pilot training in 1999. He attended Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training where he earned his wings.

His father and grandfather have been instrumental in his career and have celebrated his achievements with him. Rose said his father commissioned him after college and his grandfather pinned his original World War II pilot's wings on him at his graduation from pilot training.

"That was pretty cool," he said of receiving his grandfather's wings.

His father, retired Air Force Col. Gene Rose III, flew two tours in Vietnam. His first tour was as a Forward Air Controller in an OV-10. As Covey 1517, he flew out of central Vietnamese city of Pleiku and over the Ho Chi Minh trail. His second deployment was as a B-52 pilot flying out of Thailand.

His grandfather, retired Army Air Corps Capt. Gene Rose Jr., flew C-47s during some of World War II's largest battles in the European Theater. As a pilot for cargo carriers, he dropped airborne forces in Sicily. He also dropped Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne during the Normandy invasion on D-Day. Rose said his grandfather died shortly after the HBO mini-series "Band of Brothers" aired and after watching the series said he was moved.

"He was moved because the airborne drop scenes were portrayed just how he recalled them," Rose said.

Rose said his interest in aviation and the Air Force came from his grandfather, who took him fishing as a child and would tell him stories.

Rose added that while stationed in Italy his wife took him to Normandy as a birthday surprise where they had a private tour of the area that included sites of the airborne invasion. His guide used a metal detector to find spent U.S. shell casings of American soldiers from where his grandfather's plane would have dropped men.

"I like to think they're from his stick," Rose said.

While deployed to Kandahar Airfield, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, Rose has been flying F-16s providing close air support to coalition forces on the ground. Rose said the highlight of his current deployment has been working with those troops.

"Hearing the sense of relief in their voice when they need airpower and we're there for them," Rose said of the deployment highlight.

When deployment is over, Rose will resume his duties as Det. 1, 20th Operations Group commander for the active association.