John Lackey was born on June 8, 1945, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He entered Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, on January 2, 1968, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force on March 28, 1968. Lt Lackey graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Moody AFB, Georgia, and was awarded his pilot wings in July 1969. He was then trained in psychological warfare, where he flew the O-2B Milirole with the 9th Special Operations Squadron at Tuy Hoa AB and Da Nang AB in the Republic of Vietnam from November 1969 to March 1971. Lackey then went through A-1 Skyraider Combat Crew Training, and flew with the 1st Special Operations Squadron at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, until May 1972. During his two tours in Southeast Asia, Lackey flew 470 combat missions and was awarded the Air Force Cross, 8 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 15 Air Medals. After Vietnam, Capt Lackey served as an A-1 instructor pilot with the 4407th Combat Crew Training Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida, until he left active duty on July 17, 1973. He then joined the New Mexico Air National Guard, serving with the 150th Fighter Group, and was later killed in a flying accident in an A-7 Corsair II near Socorro, New Mexico, on May 1, 1978. He was buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Tularosa, New Mexico.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to John Edgar Lackey, Captain, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an A-1E Tactical Fighter Pilot of the 1st Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, SEVENTH Air Force, in action in Southeast Asia from 18 to 19 March 1972. During this period, Captain Lackey was the commander of an extremely hazardous and complex search and rescue mission that was attempting to recover two American crew members located in one of the most heavily defended segments of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in southern Laos. In order to force the hostile gunners to disclose their positions, Captain Lackey exposed himself to their lethal fire for more than four hours, directing tactical air strikes on each of the more than thirty large caliber weapons as they opened fire, thereby eliminating the threat and allowing the vulnerable rescue helicopter to effect a safe and successful recovery of both crew members. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Captain Lackey reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.