Jim Badger became an Air Force officer after graduating from college, and attended navigator training. After earning his wings, he was assigned to (at the time) Military Air Transport Service (later to become MAC - Military Airlift Command) flying as navigator on the C-124. He flew missions in support of Europe and the expanding war in Vietnam. The C-124 flew low and slow, and was not well suited to supplying the needs of the war.
Jim transitioned into the new C-141, which flew much faster and further, and carried a much greater load. By the time Jim finished his time in the 141, he had accumulated over 5000 hours of flying time. Then the Air Force needed Weapon System Officers (WSOs).
Jim attended F-4 WSO training at George Air Force Base, California and was "top gun" in his class. He selected Ubon Royal Thai Air Base as his Vietnam assignment, and joined the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, the "wolfpack". In addition to flying combat missions, Jim ran the Frag Shop, which planned the hazardous missions over North Vietnam.
After Ubon, Jim was assigned to a missile unit in Missouri, and, after leaving the Air Force, attended law school and practice law, eventually rising to the position of magistrate.