Thursday, November 01, 2007

Airman Awarded the Mackay Trophy and other stories of interest

If found this on the web this morning...

A-10 pilot awarded Mackay Trophy
by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

10/30/2007 - ARLINGTON, Va. (AFPN) -- Capt. Scott Markle received the Clarence Mackay Trophy during a ceremony here Oct. 29 for his actions while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom last year.

Captain Markle, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot from the 81st Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, directly engaged a group of Taliban fighters June 16, 2006, who were in combat with a 15-person special forces team.

"The presentation of this award to Captain Scott Markle underscores the very essence of what we believe about air power and the vital role America's Air Force plays in our nation's defense," said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, who presented the trophy to Captain Markle.

Captain Markle was leading a two-ship flight to support a mission in southern Afghanistan when his flight was re-tasked on takeoff to support special forces troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in contact with Taliban forces.

When he arrived just before dawn, heavy gunfire and tracers were going in many directions and visibility made it difficult to find the team's location. Captain Markle, unable to employ weapons due to the enemy's close proximity to the team, flew a dangerously low pass over the area while releasing self-protection flares.

For the rest of this article please go HERE

Congratulations to Capt Markle for an outstanding job. You bring great credit to yourself and the USAF.

It is interesting to see sometimes what some people call the flight of the year and what others call, "just doing you job". I write that not as a slap against the USAF but in reference to the things I've seen with my own eyes during 1000 hours of combat flying in 24 months here in Iraq. It is interesting how little credit my brother Army aviators receive, how few accolades, when there are many acts of valor equal to or greater than that described above. Rarely do you hear about them and rarely still are they rewarded like they should be.

I know of a team of Apaches that were in support of an operation near Sadr City. They received a call that a convoy had been hit by an IED and there were wounded. The RTO asked them if they were MEDIVAC capable. They said no and tried to find if anyone was immediately available...seeing as it was 0200 in the AM there weren't any aircraft immediately available. After asking some questions about the condition of the wounded operator, they agreed to try and evacuate him. They landed at a Combat Outpost in a confined area barely big enough for one aircraft, to pick up a gravely wounded Special Operator and fly him to the hospital 5 minutes away with the Co-Pilot Gunner strapped to the outside of the aircraft on a "spur ride". By several accounts they saved his life. They did this on a pitch black night, in brown out conditions on the LZ. This happened several months ago and they haven't received any recognition or award.

I know of a team of Black Hawks that spotted an IED go off on a road. After circling the site and seeing the wreckage and the wounded needing assistance they landed, picked up a mortally wounded soldier and flew him to the CSH. For their trouble the Air Mission Commander was threatened with having various administrative actions taken against him because he wasn't flying a MEDIVAC aircraft and should have waited for the MEDIVAC to awards for them yet either.

I could go on. Believe me, I could tell a lot more of them.

At first it really made me upset that these acts of courage and sacrifice were going un-noticed and un-recognized. I do realize however, that last statement isn't entirely true...these acts are recognized by the people we work for...the soldier on the ground. When they hear our callsigns on the radio they know that we will be there for them no matter what. But it is disturbing that our own chain of command doesn't seem to value the things that we do to the same extent as some other organizations. Would it be too much to ask that in an organization that doesn't give out bonuses or raises based on a job well done, that they could at least give a few awards to the people that have more than earned them? Is that too much to expect? I guess around here it is.