It’s That Time Again!

Once again it’s that time of year when kids are bursting with excitement and adults are scrambling to attend holiday parties and wrap gifts. This poem is a little tribute to the brave fighter pilots (and all of our military members!) who will be spending Christmas away from their families this year. We’ve all missed at least one Christmas, but knowing that others have to do it too doesn’t make it any easier. Here’s to all those down range: COME HOME SAFE!

Disclaimer: This poem was not written for children. If you have little kids and celebrate Christmas, you probably don’t want to read this to them. They won’t understand it and will likely hate you for reading it to them.  Oh, and there’s a glossary at the end if you’re unfamiliar with some of the terms.

Christmas On Alert

T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the AOR,

Not a Flanker was airborne, and no cause for alarm.

The flight gear was hung in the alert shack with care,

If bandits were inbound, we’d be in the air.

The fighter pilots were nestled, all snug in their tents,

While visions of AMRAAMs danced in their “craniums”


With my alert tour just starting, and my wingman asleep,

I was sure this night would be quiet, and settled into my seat.

When out on the flight line there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

The bat phone began ringing, and I knew in a flash,

We’d be donning our flight gear and to our jets in a dash!


Without so much as a radio call to tower,

We were gear in the well in a quarter of an hour.

Dark Star had a contact inbound and hot,

If it didn’t turn back soon, it would surely get shot.

They gave us a bullseye with no declaration yet,

It would be up to me to VID this jet.


Then what in the scintillated view of my NVGs did appear,

But a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer!

It’s surely a bandit, I made the assumption

For certainly my NVGs had malfunctioned.

Still riding the rush of a pre-takeoff go-pill,

I keyed up the mic and said “Contact is hostile!”


My intercept was perfect, right to his six,

With my wingdog in trail, and no friendlies in the mix.

I saddled up nicely and uncaged my AIM-9,

With a clear field of fire, I knew it was time.

On Raytheon, on Boeing, on Lockheed and Martin,

This dogfight of mine was about to get startin’.


The sidewinder tone was now at full wail,

“FOX 2!” I cried as the missile came off the rail.

And then everything slowed to what seemed like slow motion,

Followed by a glittery, red and green explosion.

Gift bows and wrapping paper – candy canes everywhere,

It looked like Christmas had blown up in the air.


“Splash one!” I told Dark Star and the radio was silent,

What had just happened in that explosion so violent?

As pieces of reindeer slowly fell from the sky,

The smallest of tears began to well up in my eye.

Christmas wouldn’t come this year to good girls and boys,

No one would be bringing them their Christmas toys.


Kids around the world will hate me forever because,

I am the fighter pilot who shot down Santa Clause.




AOR – Area of Responsibility. A geographic region assigned to a Combatant Commander for which he/she maintains responsibility for combat operations.

AMRAAM – Active Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. A radar guided missile produced by Raytheon. The missile is also known as the AIM-120.

Bullseye – A means to convey location of airborne contacts. It is a point from which bearing and range is referenced.

Dark Star – One of many tactical call signs of airborne command and control.

Declaration – In this context it is a declaration of an airborne contact’s allegiance based on application of Identification and Rules of Engagement guidance.

Flanker – The NATO reporting name for the Su-27 family of Russian fighter jets.

NVG – Night Vision Goggles

VID – Visual Identification




  1. Bill says:

    I can’t wait until Easter when you blast the Easter Bunny to smithereens. Or, maybe uncork the gun and take care of that pesky Tooth Fairy. When the Irish start missing their Leprechauns, they need look no further than the jet with your name painted on the nose wheel door.

  2. Jim Johnson says:

    In the post on the C-124 (“Old Shaky”), the writer identified it as having turboprop engines. They were big old Wasp radial recips, sir. I grew up with them at Maxwell AFB and listened to them cranking down at the flight line for MX runs late at night. Later on I did fly a turboprop, myself – C-130 E-model, as well as C-141A models, all but 5-6 now at D-M’s boneyard.

  3. Bill says:

    What a great Christmas tradition you’ve started with the annual posting of this debriefing. I smile each and every year that I read it…now that the shock and horror have worn off.

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