Robert “Bob” Pardo, an American national hero whose valor during the Vietnam War solidified his position in military annals, has been laid to rest by the air force community and the broader nation. On December 5, Pardo, who executed the legendary maneuver referred to as “Pardo’s Push,” passed away in College Station, Texas, at the age of 89.
The account pertaining to Pardo’s Push commences on March 10, 1967, when Pardo, then a United States Air Force captain, and 1st Lt. Steve Wayne, a weapons officer, undertook a perilous mission above Vietnam. Their target was the primary steel facility in North Vietnam, which was fortified with artillery designed to destroy aircraft. During the course of the operation, Wayne and Pardo, aboard their F-4C Phantom, which they operated alongside another aircraft under the command of Captain Earl Aman and 1st Lt. Robert Houghton, were subjected to intense enemy fire.
Despite the considerable harm caused, Aman’s aircraft was struck in a critical manner, which resulted in the loss of fuel and jeopardized the crew’s ability to return to their base. Amidst the imminent peril of his comrades being apprehended or killed, Pardo issued a fleeting assessment that would subsequently mold his enduring influence. Through the strategic manipulation of his jet’s nose in opposition to Aman’s tailhook, he effectively extracted the dilapidated aircraft from an adversarial airspace.
Through the implementation of this bold maneuver, both personnel achieved a successful ejection over Laos, where they were subsequently rescued. After careful consideration of his audacious deed, Pardo attributed his triumph to the values instilled in him by his father, which included an unwavering readiness to aid a companion in danger.
Notwithstanding the initial disapproval from his superiors and the potential for court-martial, Pardo ultimately garnered acclaim for his bravery. Following the event of twenty years, he was awarded the Silver Star, which is the third-highest military decoration in the United States and is specifically designated for acts of valor. A number of additional military awards have been bestowed upon him, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart.
Pardo, a native of Texas, completed 132 missions while serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War after enlisting at the tender age of 19. Following his retirement in 1974 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he demonstrated an exceptional record of service and an unyielding resolve.
John Pardo, his father’s son, stated in remembrance of his father’s legacy that acts of valor extend beyond aircraft piloting and flight. He emphasized that anyone has the capacity to exhibit heroism simply by being present for those in need. Pardo’s story serves as an enduring inspiration for forthcoming generations, showcasing the extraordinary measures that service members are willing to undertake to ensure the safety of their comrades and the profound influence that altruism can have.