Jack Ensch was born in 1937 in Springfield, Illinois. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 9, 1956, and served as a NIKE I Missile Systems Instructor before going into the Army Reserve and completing college. After completing Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy on May 28, 1965. Ensch then completed Naval Flight Officer School and Radar Intercept Officer training before joining the Replacement Air Group at VF-121, NAS Miramar, where he was trained as an F-4 Phantom II RIO. LT Ensch served several tours in Vietnam between 1966 and 1968 with VF-21 on the USS Coral Sea and USS Ranger. After serving as an Admiral's aide from June 1968 to September 1970, Ensch went through F-4 refresher training and then served again in Southeast Asia, flying with VF-161 off the USS Midway from January 1971 to August 1972. During this time, LT Ensch was credited with destroying 2 enemy MiG-17 aircraft in aerial combat. On August 25, 1972, LT Ensch was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War. He was held in captivity for 216 days before being released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. After being hospitalized, LCDR Ensch returned to flight status and served as Executive Officer and Tactics Instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) at NAS Miramar, California, from January 1974 to April 1976. He began F-14 Tomcat transition training with VF-124 in April 1976 and he was assigned to VF-1 in November 1976. LCDR Ensch completed two Western Pacific deployments aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) before becoming Executive Officer of VF-124 in March 1979. He then became Executive Officer and later Commanding Officer of VF-114 in March 1980, serving until 1982. Ensch next graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., and served two years on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations before becoming Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations with Carrier Group SIX in August 1985. He next served as Operations Officer on the staff of the Commander of the Airborne Early Warning Wing Pacific and then as Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station at Key West, Florida. In July 1991, he transferred to the Chief of Naval Education and Training in Pensacola as the Inspector General. Captain Ensch next served as Commander of the Naval Training Center San Diego from June 1993 until his retirement from the Navy on November 12, 1995. Following retirement, Jack joined the San Diego Padres Baseball Club as Director of Military Marketing, and established the only military marketing department in all of professional sports. During his military career, Captain Ensch accumulated over 3,000 flying hours and over 800 carrier landings in F-4 Phantoms and F-14 Tomcats. He also flew 285 combat missions during the Vietnam War. He is married to the former Kathryn Ubben of Pekin, Illinois, and they have three daughters-Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Christine.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy as a naval flight officer of jet aircraft while serving with Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE embarked in USS MIDWAY (CVA-41). On 23 May 1972, in support of an air strike against the Haiphong petroleum products storage in North Vietnam, the Combat Air Patrol element in which Lieutenant Ensch participated as a Radar Intercept Officer, was taken under attack by six enemy fighter aircraft. Lieutenant Ensch was instrumental in providing critical tactical information to his pilot and in covering the stern of the patrol element. In the ensuing low-altitude aerial combat, he materially contributed to the success of the mission in which he and his pilot were credited with the confirmed downing of two enemy fighter aircraft. Lieutenant Ensch's superb airmanship and courage reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.