USAF CV-22 crew win top award

USAF CV-22 crew win top award

28-Oct-2015 Source: US Air Force

The Cannon military flying community, leaders, family and local supporters gathered in Hanger 196 to recognize a group of heroes who risked their lives in combat late last year to save the lives of others, Oct. 16.

Capt. Jonathan Seagle, Capt. John Vandenbemden, Staff Sgt. Spencer Seymore and Staff Sgt. Daniel Teel, members of the 20th Special Operations Squadron, received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with Valor from Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, Commander Air Force Special Operations Command, for their rapid airpower response to an enemy attack on American forces Dec. 5, 2014.

“On the night of Dec. 5, we got an opportunity to display the full capability of the 20th SOS, and we did,” stated Heithold. “I am humbled to share this stage with these fine Air Commandos.”

While deployed, the CV-22 crew responded to a special operations assault force that had come under heavy fire from enemy combatants. Their timely actions led to the successful evacuation of critically-wounded ground personnel.

“This is a great honor,” said Seagle. “Any member of the 20th would have done the exact same thing. We are all very humbled.”

According to the citation, Seagle and Vandenbemden quickly identified access and exit routes, and plotted potential unplanned landing zones in the area. Undeterred by the intensity of enemy and friendly fires, Seagle and Vandenbemden identified the special operations team, cleared the landing zone and provided critical radio approach calls that led to flawless execution of an extremely difficult 80-foot restricted-visibility landing.

At the same time, Teel analyzed the aircraft’s systems and quickly determined that the CV-22 would be overweight, which would jeopardize the mission. He immediately initiated dumping procedures to ensure the crew had adequate power for a safe approach and takeoff. Meanwhile, Seymore manned the .50 caliber weapons system while ensuring safety and providing approach calls for a successful dust out landing. Once on the ground, Seymore departed the aircraft, exposing himself to enemy fire in order to aid in loading the critically wounded.

The crew ensured all patients were securely loaded despite receiving distress calls that they were taking direct fire from the enemy, according to the citation. During their flight from the objective, they continued to perform evasive maneuvers, using the terrain for cover, which enabled them to safely depart the area.

Once clear of danger, the crew coordinated critical aerial refueling to guarantee the safe transport of the wounded to a U. S. Navy vessel for immediate surgery. Upon reaching the vessel, they achieved a first: performing a CV-22 shipboard contingency landing.

“The individual and team effort made by these men speaks to the character of our Air Commandos,” said Col. Ben Maitre, 27th Special Operations Wing commander. “This is a great moment for the 20th, Cannon and for AFSOC.”

Editor’s note: Congress authorized the Distinguished Flying Cross July 2, 1926, to award any U.S. military member who exhibits heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial fight against an enemy of the United States. The Air Medal was authorized May 11, 1942, to award anyone who, while serving in any capacity in or with U.S. Armed Forces, distinguishes himself or herself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.

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