Quick thinking earns Airman Distinguished Flying Cross

DA SWO

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Story from the AF Webpage; shame the PA folks are so clueless. I think PA is a career field for Cross-Trainees only, no entry level positions should be allowed.

None the less; it appears this Hog Driver did a good job, and I am happy the AF is recognizing his efforts. Gen North be damned :-"
I hope the AH-64 Crews received recognition also.

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123275136

10/7/2011 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross during a ceremony here Sept. 30.

Maj. Ryan Hayde was presented the medal by Brig. Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the 57th Wing commander, for his actions during his recent deployment to Afghanistan.

"It's an honor to receive such a prestigious award in front of my peers," said Hayde, the 57th Wing commander's action group chief. "However, it made me equally happy, if not more, that my wingman, Capt. Sam Chipman, received an Air Medal and was recognized for the great things he did on that mission as well."

The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Section 12 of the Air Corps Act in 1926. President Calvin Coolidge awarded the first Distinguished Flying Cross in 1927. The medal is awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the U.S. armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight in support of operations.

"The only thing that we, as close-air support pilots, think about is supporting the guys on the ground," Hayde said. "Sometimes, the word 'support' gets a negative connotation, but for us the word 'support' is a badge of honor."

During his deployment, Hayde began a night offensive operation to engage enemy Taliban forces Oct. 29, 2010. While approaching his mission objective, he was notified that an 8,000 foot flight ceiling and inclement weather would prevent the execution of the original mission plan. With little room for error and less than two miles from the Pakistan border, Hayde coordinated with the other aircraft participating in the mission and two joint terminal attack controllers on the ground to develop a new plan to achieve the objectives.

Minutes after deciding on an alternate plan, Hayde led his flight on numerous passes over five possible helicopter landing zones. His aircraft destroyed several improvised explosive devices in nearly zero visibility, allowing a 150-man assault force to land safely. Once the assault force team moved into the nearby city, they came under immediate fire. For the next 35 minutes, Hayde continually tracked U.S. ground forces and provided cover fire. He also coordinated with friendly AH-64 Apaches to deploy 100 rounds and three bombs on enemies who were deeply entrenched in two separate mountaintop locations. Hayde's quick thinking and service-before-self attitude led to the success of the mission and the capture of more than 25,000 pounds of homemade explosives and 40 kilograms of opium.

"Sometimes, getting the opportunity, during what may be the worst day of a Soldier' s life, to provide air support and allow that individual to make it home to his or her family safely, is the most amazing honor you can receive," Hayde said. "I believe the total air power, not just my flight, enabled all the special operations forces to make it home that night."

The award, presented to Hayde for his actions last October, acknowledges his ability to uphold the highest standards and core values of the Air Force, while successfully accomplishing the mission, officials said.
 
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