A-10 Pilot Awarded for Heroism Through Rescue Mission 10 Years In the past

  • An A-10 pilot been given the Distinguished Traveling Cross lately for heroism through a combat 10 several years in the past.
  • His actions were being aspect of what a person official identified as “1 of the most extreme beat rescue missions of the Afghanistan war.”
  • The pilot not only coordinated 21 plane about 37 communications frequencies, but he place himself in harm’s way to draw fireplace.

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A US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II assault aircraft pilot received a prestigious award just lately for his function in a hazardous rescue mission 10 decades back in Afghanistan, the Air Drive claimed in a statement.

Lt. Col. Mike “Vago” Hilkert, a pilot with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross past month for heroism for the duration of what has been described as “a person of the most rigorous fight rescue missions of the Afghanistan war.”

In the course of that 6-hour battle on April 23, 2011, Hilkert not only coordinated the warfighting efforts of 21 plane around dozens of frequencies, but he also deliberately place himself and his aircraft in harm’s way repeatedly to attract enemy hearth away from rescue helicopters.

The Air Pressure claimed Hilkert also helped help save the life of far more than 30 folks.

In the early hours of the day, when it was even now darkish, two Air Drive HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters carrying pararescuemen have been sent out to respond to a downed Army helicopter.

A single helicopter, phone indication Pedro 83, dropped three pararescuemen on to a ridge various hundred ft from the crash site, in which they uncovered one particular of the Military helicopter pilots alive. The other Pave Hawk, Pedro 84, dropped two PJs closer to the crash website. The other pilot was dead when they arrived.

The PJs and their helicopters commenced having heavy fire pretty much quickly.

Pedro 84 took significant fireplace, and the flight engineer was shot in the leg, forcing the helicopter to return to base to get the airman health-related interest and to get one more engineer. The two PJs, Team Sgts. Zachary Kline and Invoice Cenna, were still left at the crash site.

Pedro 83 tried using to get the three PJs and the surviving pilot out but had to lower the hoist. Alternatively than hoisting them up, the pilots opted to lower the helicopter down into what the Air Drive claimed was “a daring 1-wheel hover” to get them back again.

Supported by AH-64 Apache helicopters traveling overwatch, Kline and Cenna took go over in a rock outcropping, but they ended up forced to abandon that position and relocate as enemy hearth established off the munitions on the downed Military helicopter.

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 163rd Fighter Squadron flies a mission over Afghanistan.

An Air Drive A-10 flies a mission in excess of Afghanistan

US Air Drive Image by Personnel Sgt. Corey Hook

Hilkert, then a captain with the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, was supporting functions in another location in his A-10C when the call for help arrived in more than the Guard frequency.

“You need to have to fully grasp that in a overcome zone utilizing Guard is sacred — a final resort,” Lt. Col. Rick Mitchell, the 442d Functions Team deputy commander who introduced Hilkert with the DFC, reported in a statement, contacting it “a true indicator that items are undesirable, and another person requirements aid.”

Hilkert, fueled by Rip-It electrical power drinks and traveling a aircraft identified as Hawg 73, joined forces with Capt. Rustin “Trombone” Traynham and Lt. Col. David “Seymour” Haworth in Hawg 71 and 74 respectively, making Sandy 1, a force of three A-10s.

They fired rockets into the valley though Hilkert recognized airspace restriction and communications relays for coordinating the struggle.

The rockets gave Kline and Cenna a limited reprieve prior to they quickly identified them selves using significant equipment gun hearth at shut assortment, in 50 meters, in accordance to the Air Power.

Hilkert managed to determine the threat and relay focusing on facts to the other two A-10s even though refueling, which is no uncomplicated task, and the two other pilots opened hearth with their 30 mm cannons, “conserving Kline’s and Cenna’s life,” the Air Force mentioned.

Two teams of 16 Military swift response force troopers landed at two various locations later that morning, straight away coming under fireplace. A person soldier was killed, and at the very least a person other was hurt.

Hilkert tracked a person team with his binoculars although monitoring the other with his targeting pod. He also coordinated the endeavours of the assault helicopters, tanker, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance belongings, and the other attack plane to shield ground forces from friendly hearth when tracking enemy positions.

As ground forces took hearth, two rescue helicopters supported by two Apaches and two A-10s flown by Hilkert and Haworth flew in to evacuate a wounded soldier, but the helicopters kept owning to drop back again amid large incoming fireplace.

To attract enemy fire away from the helicopters seeking to have out the rescue mission, Hilkert regularly flew his aircraft into risk.

His award citation clarifies that he “knowingly and selflessly place his aircraft in harm’s way to be certain the survival of the rescue bundle, which ensured no further reduction of assets even with nine noticed surface to air fires.”

He assisted obvious landing zones, facilitating the rescue of the wounded soldier. Later on, the other rescue helicopter flew in and received Kline and Cenna, who managed to get the fallen Army pilot out as perfectly.

Though the Air Pressure praised Hilkert, indicating that his “skill and vigilance led to the securing of two landing zones, rescuing the two Guardian Angels, and recovering the downed pilot and evacuation of the 32 troopers in the QRF staff,” he said the experience was “bittersweet.”

“I’m honored to be among a group of heroes that did their ideal with a terrible situation,” he mentioned in a statement. “Quite a few people lost their lives throughout this mission, so it was not all large fives when we obtained property. We flew back to Kandahar in silence.”

Hilkert is the fourth Air Drive pilot who participated in that mission to gain the Distinguished Flying Cross. Additionally, two pararescue airmen been given Silver Stars, as did two helicopter pilots.

Air Pressure Instances, which 1st documented Hilkert’s steps, reported that his modern award was the end result of a renewed award software backed by the assistance of a range of leaders. Hilkert is now a member of the Air Pressure Reserve.