Two A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots recently received Distinguished Flying Crosses during a ceremony at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, according to the base.
The ceremony was held on March 2, with the pilots receiving one of the highest military honors for “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, presented Maj. Tyler Schultz and Capt. Samantha Harvey, 354th Fighter Squadron pilots, with the distinguished aviation award for their heroic actions in support of U.S. Army forces near al-Shaddadi, Syria, on May 2, 2017.
Schultz and Harvey displayed “superior flight leadership and exemplary Airmanship while engaging fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” the Air Force press release stated.
“We’re there to support, protect and bring our ground forces home,” Schultz said.
The pilots’ heroic actions occurred during a close air support mission against enemy fighters dispatched by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to attack members of Operation Inherent Resolve.
During the mission, a U.S. joint terminal attack controller reported that his team was surrounded and under intense direct fire. Schutlz and Harvey were able to successfully locate the troops in trouble before assessing the enemy’s coordinated attacks and constructing a plan to fight back.
“Talking with the JTAC — I learned what fear sounds like,” Harvey said. “All that mattered was he needed us at that moment.”
Harvey descended in her aircraft in an attempt to display a show of force in the hopes of deterring further enemy aggression. In the meantime, Schultz executed four strafe runs directly onto the enemy threat.
“It was dark, but I had a job to do,” Harvey added. “I thought to myself, this is the moment that I’ve been training for.”
The pilots’ efforts proved successful. Harvey’s flight leadership and Schultz’s response under pressure resulted in saving more than 50 U.S. personnel with zero casualties.
The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the U.S. Armed Forces who has distinguished themselves in combat in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement in flight.
The DFC was established in 1926 and has since been awarded to to the likes of Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Buzz Aldrin and former President George H. W. Bush.