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Joseph W. Kittinger II
Joseph Kittinger, Jr.jpg
Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger II, USAF
(pictured as a captain)
First person to conduct stratospheric space diving
Nickname(s) Red
Born 27 July 1928 (1928-07-27) (age 93)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the US Air Force.svg United States Air Force
Years of service 1950–1978
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit (2)
Dfc-usa.jpg Distinguished Flying Cross (6)
Bronze Star Medal ribbon with "V" device, 1st award.svg Bronze Star (Valor) (3)
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart (2)
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal ribbon.jpg Air Medal (24)
Prisoner of War ribbon.svg Prisoner of War Medal

Colonel Joseph William Kittinger II (born July 27, 1928) is a retired officer in the United States Air Force (USAF) and a Command Pilot. His initial operational assignment was in fighter aircraft, then he participated in Project Manhigh and Project Excelsior high-altitude balloon flight projects from 1956 to 1960, setting a world record for the highest skydive from a height greater than 19 miles (31 km). He was also the first man to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a gas balloon, and the first man to fully witness the curvature of the earth.

Kittinger served as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, and he achieved an aerial kill of a North Vietnamese MiG-21 jet fighter and was later shot down himself, spending 11 months as a prisoner of war in a North Vietnamese prison.

Kittinger participated in the Red Bull Stratos project as capsule communicator in 2012 at age 84, directing Felix Baumgartner on his record-breaking 24-mile (39 km) freefall from Earth's stratosphere, which broke Kittinger's own 53-year-old world record of 102,800 feet (31.3 km) set in 1959. However, Baumgartner's world record would be broken just two years later by Alan Eustace.

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