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Name (Last, First Middle)Vargas, John E
Branch at time of eventUSAF
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Award Year2006
Award Summary InformationMajor John E. Vargas Jr., United States Air Force Academy Class of 1996, is the winner of the 2006 Jabara Award for heroism and sustained superior performance as a Flight Commander and Instructor Pilot in the Triple Nickel at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Major John "Vegas" Vargas is currently assigned as a Weapons School Instructor in the USAF Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev. Flying the F-16, Major Vargas completed 45 combat missions, totaling more than 200 hours, in Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, and JOINT FORGE. He provided critical close air support and employed ordnance on high value targets such as AI Qaeda personnel, equipment, and strongholds. During one sortie, he and his wingman discovered a convoy under attack. Major Vargas flew directly over the suspected enemy locations at high speed and low altitude while expending flares. The enemy stopped engaging the convoy and began shooting at Major Vargas' F-16. This diversion allowed the convoy to get out of its defensive posture and begin moving away from the ambush. He also safely handled three aircraft emergencies, including a divert to North Africa. His contributions were by no means limited to the cockpit. He developed F-16 tactics, techniques, and procedures for missions never before executed, to include Urban Close Air Support, convoy support, and fighter integration with Special Forces Operations. His methods were largely responsible for a 44 percent reduction in convoy attacks, as well as seven high value targets being killed or captured. During the award period, he also graduated from the USAF Weapons School, was a Squadron Officer School Distinguished Graduate, and was named the 31 1 Fighter Wing's Instructor Pilot of the Year. The Commander of USAFE expertly captured the essence of Major Vargas when he said, "Vegas is simply the type of guy you want to go to war with!" For his outstanding achievements, Major Vargas is the 44`h winner of the Jabara Award for Airmanship.
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