Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan “Flood” Kassebaum, assigned to the 159th Fighter Squadron, and commander of the 125th Operations Support Squadron, of the 125th Operations Group, 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard completed his first mission since his near-fatal accident last year.
Ensuring air dominance via defensive and offensive counter-air operations, the 159th Fighter Squadron maintains Combat Mission Ready (CMR) status for over 25 pilots and associated support Airmen to fulfill mission objectives.
Kassebaum was severely injured while working on a project in the backyard of his family home. He remained lifeless for nearly 12 minutes after the electrocution and was placed in a medically induced coma shortly thereafter.
“I don’t really remember a whole lot of what happened that morning,” said Kassebaum.
While working on an electrical project in the backyard of his family home, Kassebaum heard his dog yelping from the pool. He responded, not realizing that the pool water was electrically charged and the dog was being shocked by an active current. Emotions took over as the pilot described becoming grounded to the metal handrails and the urgent call for his daughter’s help.
“She came out and I just told her, help me. I’m stuck, turn off the breaker,” said Kassebaum. Immediately responding, his daughter got the attention of contractors who just happened to be there; they rushed to Kassebaum’s aid while she called local emergency services.
Kassebaum is now cleared to fly and has completed his first operational mission since the life-threatening incident.
“It felt great, you know, seeing Jacksonville from the sky. I missed it,” said Kassebaum. Describing the feeling of flying, from the smells to the speed to the views, Kassebaum noted how grateful he is to have recovered. He thanked his family for their strength and the first responders for their quick call to action, reiterating that without their help he may not have survived.
Words of support circulated throughout the Florida Air National Guard after Kassebaum landed. With his wife, Melissa, and their three daughters by his side, he was congratulated on his recovery and applauded after his return from the mission. In addition to the support of his family and fellow Airmen, Kassebaum was also greeted on the flight line by Florida National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Air, Brig. Gen. Michael Valle.
“We’ve certainly missed Lt. Col. Kassebaum during his absence and I’m so glad that the Airmen of Florida National Guard were able to help him reintegrate to full flying status today. It is a great day for “Flood”, his family, and his wingmen! We’re so happy to welcome Flood back to the fight!” said Valle.