Born in Warren County in 1928, John Craig Carmichael joined the Air Force in 1950, became a USAF pilot in 1952 and, posted almost immediately to a combat squadron in Korea. Flying P-51 Mustangs and later the agile and deadly F-86 Sabre, he racked up 60 missions.
Carmichael returned stateside and capitalized on his combat experience by serving as an instructor for over eight years, at Nellis AFB and Connally AFB. He instructed in a wide variety of the most advanced jet aircraft of the era. He was one of the first pilots to check out in the T-39 Sabreliner, becoming Chief Flight Examiner and Chief of Standardization for the T-39 for USAF European Command. He also served as Pilot for the Commander and Vice Commander of United States Air Forces-Europe.
He returned to Randolph AFB as Chief of Standardization/Evaluation and Procedures Branch, where he was responsible for writing and formulating instrument flying techniques and procedures for the entire Air Force.
Anxious to return to combat status, Carmichael volunteered for duty in Vietnam in 1971 and chalked up an additional 106 combat missions in a variety of aircraft. While there, he was named Chief Flight Examiner and Standards/Evaluation Officer for the T-39 for 7th AF. He eventually served in the Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG) where he flew with and trained South Vietnamese pilots in 8 different aircraft including the A-37, A-1 Fighter bombers, C-119, C-47 Gunships, and cargo planes as well as the UH-1H helicopter.
All told, Lt Col Carmichael amassed over 7000 hours flying time, 5000 of those as an instructor pilot in 25 different types of airplanes, mostly jet aircraft.
Carmichael was highly decorated, with medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (with 4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), AF Presidential Unit Citation, AF Outstanding Unit Citation (with 2 bronze oak leaf clusters a “V” device for valor). Combat Readiness Medal with 3 bronze oak leaf clusters.
He was a Kentucky Colonel, a Western Kentucky University graduate, and a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.
Lt Col Carmichael married Sara Alice Booher of Bowling Green in 1952, and whenever he could during his combat career he named his aircraft for her, “Sweet SaBoo”. The Carmichaels have two sons, Chris Carmichael, Bowling Green, KY and John C. Carmichael, Jr., Dallas, TX.