Call-Sign KLUSO

An American Fighter Pilot in Mr. Reagan’s Air Force

Rick Tollini

The life and experiences of Gulf War Ace Rick Tollini, in his own words.
Date Published :
March 2021
Publisher :
Illustration :
B/w and color
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612009810
Pages : 192
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Also available digitally:
Buy From Amazon Amazon
Buy From Apple Apple
Buy From Barnes and Noble Barnes & Noble
Buy From Google Google
Buy From Kobo Kobo

Casemate will earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link here


The life and experiences of Gulf War Ace Rick Tollini, in his own words.

Eagle pilot Rick “Kluso” Tollini’s life has embodied childhood dreams and the reality of what the American experience could produce. In his memoir, Call Sign KLUSO, Rick puts the fraught minutes above the Iraqi desert that made him an ace into the context of a full life; exploring how he came to be flying a F-15C in Desert Storm, and how that day became a pivotal moment in his life.

Rick’s first experience of flying was in a Piper PA-18 over 1960s’ California as a small boy, and his love of flying through his teenage years was fostered by his pilot father, eventually blossoming into a decision to join the Air Force as a pilot in his late twenties. Having trained to fly jets he was assigned to fly the F-15 Eagle with the “Dirty Dozen,” the 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron, at Kadena AB, Japan before returning Stateside to the 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron “The Gorillas.” Throughout training, Reagan’s fighter pilots expected to face the Soviet Union, but Rick’s first combat deployment was Desert Storm. He recounts the planning, the preparation, and the missions, the life of a fighter pilot in a combat zone and the reality of combat. Rick’s aerial victory was one of 16 accumulated by the Gorillas, the most by any squadron during Desert Storm.

Returning from the combat skies of Iraq, Rick continued a successful fulfilling Air Force career until, struggling to make sense of his life, he turned to Buddhism. His practice led him to leave the Air Force, to find a new vocation, and to finally come to terms with shooting down that MiG-25 Foxbat in the desert all those years before. Most importantly, he came to a deeper understanding of the importance of our shared humanity.


Chapter 1 The Wonder Years
Chapter 2 Middlefield Avenue
Chapter 3 SJSU
Chapter 4 OTS and Chandler, AZ
Chapter 5 The Dirty Dozen
Chapter 6 The Gorillas
Chapter 7 Tabuk
Chapter 9 Return to the Dozen
Chapter 10 The Long and Winding Road
Chapter 11 The Buddha and The Fighter Pilot
Final thoughts


"Plenty of memoirs have been written by combat pilots, but Call Sign Kluso is truly one-of-a-kind. It weaves a captivating personal narrative within the context of America’s resurgence from the post-Vietnam era, while demonstrating the US military’s transformation into the high-tech, cutting-edge organization that defeated the forces of Saddam Hussein."

- Mike Guardia, Author, "American Guerrilla: The Forgotten Heroics of Russell W. Volckmann"

"...anyone who desires to achieve the growth, fulfilment, and peace that Rick Tollini experienced in his life as the epitome of an American fighter pilot flying Eagles in Mr. Reagan’s Air Force needs to read this book."

- Colonel Douglas C. Dildy, USAF Retired, Former USAF F-15C Squadron and Vice-Wing Commander, Author of “F-15 Eagle Engaged!” and “To Defeat the Few”

"Tollini writes in a conversational manner with plenty of capitalized words for emphasis, exclamation points, and ellipses. The result is an easy read that will appeal to those who want to learn what it was like to fly the F-15 in combat and to those who are interested in Operation Desert Storm. Veterans of that operation, especially those who flew combat missions, will greatly enjoy this book."

- Air & Space Power Journal

"I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what flying the F-15 Eagle was like, what life on a fighter squadron is like, and anyone with an interest in Cold War aviation or Desert Storm air combat. This is a book you will not be able to put down once you are strapped in the cockpit with KLUSO!"

- Aviation Enthusiast Book Club

"...a modelmaker or WWII US Navy enthusiast will enjoy poring over the artwork."

- Flight Line Book Review

More from this publisher