Coast Guard Aviation Association


CGAA honors one of our greatest heroes by presenting the LT JACK RITTICHIER TROPHY annually to the Kent State University football team’s MVP. Please help our association continue to pay tribute to Jack. We are continually seeking contributions from corporate entities, private benefactors, and, as a last resort, our membership, to enable us to continue our good works.

We all know the Jack Rittichier story as the Rescue Crew Commander of Jolly Green 23 on the fateful day of June 9, 1968- the heroic attempt by he and his three Air Force crewmen to rescue a downed Marine A-4 pilot along the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. All killed in action, it would be 33 years before a search team recovered their remains. Jack Rittichier was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in 2002.

Perhaps less known is that Jack had once been a football star at Kent State University, a running back for the 1954 Golden Flashes, the leading rushing team in Kent State’s one hundred plus years of football history. One of the team’s all time great plays came on October 30, 1954, in the closing minutes of their homecoming game against Bowling Green State University. Pinned on their own 10-yard line, in the closing minutes of the game, Rittichier raced 90 yards for the game-winning touchdown, a victory that propelled the team into their first bowl game appearance.

Rhode Island sculptor, Ann Rozhon, was commissioned to capture that play in a piece, fittingly called “JACK’S RUN.” The piece was 3D scanned at the Coast Guard Academy in early March. The resultant 3D file was transmitted by the Paul King Foundry, to China, where 3D printing and bronze casting of the trophy will be completed. Committed to fund the annual trophy cost, CGAA would like to raise a one-time amount of $5,000 to offset the start-up costs associated with this project. These funds will be used to defray the sculptor’s fee and the production cost. As you know, We have a lot of irons in the fire right now, and so we turn to our membership to help us fund this new trophy. 

Please make a donation to the CGAA’s RITTICHIER HERO FUND.

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit holds a memorial service for Lt. Jack C. Rittichier. Commemorating the event at the air station are (left to right): Cmdr. Daniel Travers, the station’s commanding officer; Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, Ninth Coast Guard District commander; Bill Forsyth of Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Command (JPAC); Lt. Cmdr. (Ret.) Jim Loomis; and Allen Kaupinen, a Kent State University classmate of Rittichier. Also shown are personal effects of Rittichier and a rotor blade belonging to his downed helicopter. The rotor and other related crash site items were recovered in 2002 by an archaeological team led by Forsyth. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chuck Reinhart)

CGAA is a non-profit organization operating under IRS 501 (c)(3) Tax ID 33-0161887