Maybe you should uncheck HQ on one Viper squadron so you always have airframes at your disposal? This will let you frag your mission, and have additional planes to assign as escort, SEAD, and whatever else. Added protection and more targets for the enemy, meaning your chances of making it back increase perhaps at the expense of one of your squadron mates.

Why didn't you import your logbook?

I will add that things must be very different if a flying telephone pole got you.

Animals flee this hell, the hardest stones cannot bear it for long. Only men endure