Airmen from the 55th Rescue Squadron were be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal with Valor, Sept. 20 at the 55th RQS.
The Distinguished Flying Cross Medal with Valor was presented to Capt. John Larson and Senior Airman Joshua Brown for their actions during a contingency operation while deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.
“I was the aircraft commander for Pedro 84, Senior Airman Josh Brown was the gunner in 83, both HH-60Gs,” said Capt. John Larson, 55th Rescue Squadron HH-60 pilot. “We received a medevac request for two New Zealand Soldiers with gunshot wounds; we would barely have enough fuel to complete the mission so an HC-130 was launched out of Camp Bastion to refuel us.”
While in route to the location of the wounded, the number of casualties increased to five.
“The enemy was in the area but an F-16 overhead couldn’t see anyone so we picked everyone up and took them to medical treatment,” said Larson. “As we were flying to the nearest Forward Surgical Team, we received word there were five more casualties, two of which were on a cliff-side and would need a hoist.”
After dropping off the initial wounded, Pedro 83 directed Pedro 84 to go to the canyon floor to pick up three wounded, while Pedro 83 picked up the two on the side of the cliff.
“We both had to dump gas in order to have enough power to do the hoist,” said Larson. “As the Pararescuemen were dropped off the hoist, five enemy positions began shooting at the aircraft.”
Both aircraft took off and made several gun passes to suppress the threat.
“Now we didn’t have enough fuel to get back to base because we spent extra time fighting the enemy position,” said Larson. “The PJs said they were taking additional fire, so my aircraft kept shooting while Pedro 83 went in to hoist them out.”
The HC-130 arrived to provide aerial refueling for both Pave Hawks with only five minutes of fuel to spare on each aircraft on their way back to the FST.