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Richard "Moody" Suter
Colonel, United States Air Force
From a contemporary press report:

WASHINGTON -- It was a cloudy, steel-gray day in the nation's capital when the designer of the Air Force's premier combat training exercise -- Red Flag -- was buried at Arlington National Cemetery January 19, 1996.

Colonel Richard "Moody" Suter died January 11, 1996  in Carefree, Arizona, after a sudden illness. Suter was mourned by Air Force leaders of the past and present, who formed together as honorary pallbearers.

Lieutenant General James F. Record, commander, 12th Air Force and U.S. Southern Command Air Forces, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, said, "Red Flag has affected almost every pilot who takes to the skies in defense of their country ... if not directly ... then indirectly by the individual pilots taking back to their home base what they've learned."

Today, Red Flag includes the air forces of the United States and its allies. Most of the people deployed are part of the "Blue" forces. These forces participate in attacks on mock airfields, vehicle convoys, and missile sites.

The "Red" -- or aggressor -- forces' threats include electronically simulated surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery, as well as an opposing enemy force composed of pilots trained to fly the F-16C to duplicate the tactics and techniques of potential adversaries.

Another Suter legacy is his driving force behind setting up Checkmate, which Air Force officials have described as a "think tank" for wartime scenarios, and the Warrior Preparation Center, Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany, which is used for training senior battle commanders in the art of war.

"Suter based his plan for Red Flag on lessons learned from Vietnam," Record said. "Young pilots and crew members were either shot down or had an accident during their first 10 sorties. His plan was to get those young pilots into a combat-structured environment, where those first 10 missions could be performed in the controlled arena of an exercise."

Lieutenant Colonel James G. "Snake" Clark, one of the honorary pallbearers and Suter's friend for 14 years, said, "Moody was a visionary, but also he had a unique ability to persuade others in the system to support his unique ideas. He worked on both the funding and the building of Red Flag."

"We can credit a lot of our success in Desert Shield/Desert Storm to these programs that he established in the mid-70s," Record said. "Red Flag, Checkmate and the Aggressor squadrons have saved many lives."

To honor Suter's achievements, Clark said the Warrior Preparation Center command section building and Red Flag building 201 at Nellis AFB, Nev., will be dedicated later this year in his name as a lasting memorial for future Air Force aviators.


Updated: 14 April 2000 Updated: 10 August 2003 Updated: 6 November 2005
Air Medal