John Bode was born on September 16, 1933, in Omaha, Nebraska. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on May 22, 1952, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program in May 1954. Bode graduated from pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings on June 1, 1955. After completing F-86 Sabre Combat Crew Training, he was assigned to the 434th and then the 476th Fighter Day Squadron at George AFB, California, from January 1956 to September 1958. He then transferred to the 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England, where he served until September 1961. Capt Bode next completed an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to the University of Oklahoma to complete his Bachelor and Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating in May 1965, he served as an Aerospace Engineer with the Air Force Weapons Lab at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, from June 1965 to April 1968. Maj Bode next completed Forward Air Controller training and was then assigned as an O-1 Bird Dog and OV-10 Bronco pilot with the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron, serving with the Army's 25th Infantry Division, based out of Bien Hoa AB in the Republic of Vietnam from November 1968 to November 1969. After returning from Southeast Asia, Col Bode was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon, where he served from November 1969 until his retirement from the Air Force on February 1, 1974.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, awards the Air Force Cross to Major John R. Bode for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Forward Air Controller at Fire Support Base Crook, Republic of Vietnam, from 5 June 1969 to 7 June 1969. During that period, Major Bode planned, directed, and controlled the employment of all the combined Air Force and Army tactical air assets in the decisive defeat of a numerically superior ground force. Displaying exceptional gallantry under intense and sustained hostile ground fire and unparalleled devotion to duty, Major Bode flew 6 missions and more than 17 hours at tree top level under overcast ceilings of less than 1000 feet, both day and night. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Major Bode reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.