KNOXVILLE — “Top Gun” only begins to describe the career of Air Force veteran Charlie Harr.

“Things just fell into place,” said the combat pilot reflecting on a military career that stretched for more than 26 years and included the following list of “dream assignments”:

  • *200 combat missions in Vietnam
  • *Air Force Top Gun Instructor pilot
  • *6 fighters “combat ready”: F-100, A-7, A-10, F-117, F-4, F-15
  • *2nd combat pilot to fly the stealth fighter
  • *nighttime air war commander in Operation Desert Storm

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A fellow commander in the Tactical Air Operations Center during Operation Desert Storm who served with Colonel Harr USAF (Ret.) recalls, “Charlie had his hands full.”

Dave Deptula, Lt. Gen USAF (Ret.) said in an email, the colonel helped oversee upwards of 3,000 air sorties a day closing the note with the following: “The success of the operation is a tribute to the spectacular performance of Charlie Harr!”

In addition to our on-camera interview about his career Charlie Harr answered the following 10 questions about the influence of his military career on his life.

10 Questions

What one person influenced you most in life?

C: "My Dad was a great example to me. He ran a business, took care of his family and cared for his aging mother with dementia. In spite of his schedule he made time for us to bond through fishing and golf. He died at age 55 while I was in Vietnam."

Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?

C: "Attitudes have changed over the years. When I returned from Vietnam no one in uniform was respected. When I returned from Desert Storm there was tremendous support for the military."

How can people thank you for your service?

C: "Acknowledge the sacrifice of those who are serving now and the hardships it places on their families."

How do you honor your fellow service men and women?

C: "I have served on the leadership team for HonorAir Knoxville since inception in 2007, serve as board member and treasurer for the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association and support Smoky Mountain Service Dogs."

How do you think this generation of service men and women is different or similar to yours?

C: "They are serving in an open-ended terrorist conflict."

What influence did your military service have on the rest of your life?

C: "Reinforced the work ethic that my Dad had taught in the early years."

Does your family have a history of military service?

C: "No"

Would you encourage younger generations in your family to join the service?

C: "Yes, in some instances."

How has your opinion of war changed?

C: "If our country is to commit people to combat the leadership must have a clear strategy and objective. We should put a definition to the word “victory” before the commitment is made. As a country we failed miserably at this in Vietnam and succeeded in Desert Storm."

How did your military experience shape your faith?

C: "Although I grew up in a faith-based family situation, my mature faith has been more influenced by experiences at Middlebrook Pike United Methodist Church after retiring from the military and moving to Knoxville. I credit that to my mentor Don Haas (RIP)."