Air Force Veteran Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who piloted the “Miracle on the Hudson” Jan. 15, 2009.

Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III was born in Denison, Texas in January 1951. He started flying at age 16 while still in high school. Sullenberger enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy in June 1969.

The Air Force placed Sullenberger in a cadet glider program along with a dozen other freshmen. After his first year, he became an instructor pilot. At his graduation ceremony in 1973, Sullenberger received the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship Award as the class top flyer.

After his commissioning as an officer, Sullenberger pursued a master’s degree at Purdue University. Upon the completion of his degree, he went through Undergraduate Pilot Training, flying the T-37 Tweet and T-38 Talon.

In 1975, Sullenberger earned his pilot wings and went on to complete replacement training in the F-4 Phantom II at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Afterward, he served with the 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron of 48th Tactical Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom. During this time, he served as a fighter pilot in the F-4D Phantom II.

Sullenberger later flew with the 428th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing. He received advanced aerial combat training as a mission commander for Red Flag exercises. Before attaining the rank of captain, Sullenberger was a flight leader and a training officer at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

After Sullenberger left the Air Force in 1980, he became a commercial airline pilot. Throughout his professional career, Sullenberger has served as an instructor, an Air Line Pilots Association safety chairman, accident investigator and national technical committee member. He participated in several Air Force and National Transportation Safety Board accident investigations.

On Jan. 15, 2009, Sullenberger, piloted an emergency landing on the Hudson River. All 155 passengers and crew on board survived. He retired from commercial piloting in March 2010.

Sullenberger is now an international lecturer and keynote speaker.

Thank you for your service!

Read more about Sullenberger at

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Writer: Rachel Heimann

Editor: Kelly Dooley

Fact checker: Scott Conway

Graphic artist: Michelle Zischke

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Published on Jan. 15, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 334

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