Chad Hennings flew the A-10 in combat during the 1990s before winning three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys.
Chad Hennings is mainly known for playing with the Dallas Cowboys for nine seasons.
However, he is also a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate who flew over Northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort with the A-10 Thunderbolt II in 1991.
After graduating from the Colorado Springs Academy in June 1988, he entered undergraduate pilot training at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) Program at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. But in April 1989 he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, Hennings had to fulfill his military commitment before he could play in the NFL, something that was extremely initially quite hard to accept.
As he explains in a post published on the U.S. Air Force website: “I wouldn’t say there were regrets, (but) it was an emotional struggle […]”
Anyway, he was able to complete the LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Training), became an A-10 pilot and was assigned to the 92nd Tactical Fighter Squadron based at RAF Bentwaters, in the UK, in June 1990.
During the time with the 92nd TFS Hennings deployed twice to Incirlik Air Base, in Turkey, from where he flew 45 combat missions over North Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort, an international relief effort to aid the Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq after the Gulf War.
“Football was a distant memory and something in the past that I never really thought about until the Air Force went through the reduction in force and they started the waivers in the spring of ’92,” Hennings said.
He received a waiver in 1992 to be released from active duty as part of the Air Force’s Reduction in Force. He would go on to serve almost 10 more years in the Air Force Reserve Individual Mobilization Augmentee program.
But, during his time as a reservist he played for the Dallas Cowboys for nine seasons and was part of three Super Bowl winning teams. He played in 119 games, recording 27.5 sacks and one touchdown before retiring in 2000.
Today, Hennings lives outside of Dallas, where he’s a partner in a commercial real estate company and does a lot of public speaking.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force