Jack Broughton was born in 1925 in Utica, New York. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 15, 1942, and graduated with a commission as a 2d Lt in the U.S. Army Air Forces on June 5, 1945. Broughton completed pilot training while at the Academy, earning his pilot wings 3 days before his graduation. He flew P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang fighters in Europe from 1946 to 1948. He participated in the founding of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School just before the start of the Korean War and then flew F-80 Shooting Stars and F-84 Thunderjets during two tours in Korea between January and November 1951. After Korea, Broughton commanded one of the first F-84F Thunderstreak squadrons and his team won the 1954 Bendix Trophy Race. He then commanded the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, leading them through the transition from the straight-wing F-84G Thunderjet, to the swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak, and then to become the world's first supersonic acrobatic team in the F-100C Super Sabre. After completing Air Command and Staff College, Broughton served an Air Defense Weapons tour at Tyndal AFB, Florida, from 1958 to 1959, followed by advisor duty with the Turkish Air Force in 1960. He then coordinated West Coast Air Force, Navy, and Air National Guard defense activities at Hamilton AFB, California, before serving at Minot AFB, North Dakota, where he commanded the 5th Fighter Squadron flying the F-106 Delta Dart from 1961 to 1964. He then completed National War College and flew two tours in Southeast Asia flying the F-105 Thunderchief between 1965 and 1967. Col Broughton retired from the Air Force on August 31, 1968, having flown 216 combat missions in two wars. After his retirement from the Air Force, Jack wrote the books "Thud Ridge", "Going Downtown", and "Rupert Red Two".
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Jacksel M. Broughton, Colonel, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia while serving with the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, SEVENTH Air Force, in action over North Vietnam on 5 February 1967. On that date, Colonel Broughton was Mission Commander of a flight of a two wing F-105 Thunderchief strike force which attacked a heavily defended target in North Vietnam. Despite serious aircraft malfunctions, marginal weather, and grave damage to his aircraft from an exploding surface-to-air missile, he placed his armament directly on target, scattering fire and debris which illuminated the target for easy acquisition by the following strike force. Disregarding the crippled condition of his aircraft, which minimized his chances for recovery to friendly territory, Colonel Broughton then willfully acted as a decoy to divert hostile aircraft approaching the strike force. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Colonel Broughton reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.