U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Giovanni Sims

A-10 pilot duo receives Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in Syria

Matt Saintsing
March 12, 2018 - 2:23 pm

Two Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, a recognition of heroism or extraordinary achievement in flight, for their actions while supporting a ground force consisting of 50 Americans near al-Shaddadi, Syria last May, according to the U.S. Air Force.

Maj. Tyler Schultz and Capt. Samantha Harvey, of the 354th Fighter Squadron, received the awards while conducting a close air support mission against enemy fighters posted by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, on May 2, 2017

 “We’re there to support, protect and bring our ground forces home,” said Schultz.

It all started when a U.S. Air Force joint terminal attack controller (JTAC), which directs combat aircraft during close air support and other offensive air operations from a forward position, reported that his element was surrounded and engaged in direct fire from ISIS fighters.

Schultz and Harvey quickly reacted to the call by conducting several “gun runs” against the enemy force that pinned down more than 50 Americans.

“Talking with the JTAC—I learned what fear sounds like,” Harvey said. “All that mattered was he needed us at that moment.”

To mitigate the chance of any friendly fire, the pilots located the U.S. forces on the ground and assessed the coordinated attack.

Harvey then descended the aircraft in a show of force maneuver in an attempt to deter the direct fire on the friendly force, while Schultz conducted four strafe runs targeting the enemy fighters.

“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’ quick response and cool heads are credited with saving more than 50 U.S. service members engaged in combat.

The airman are stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona where the award ceremony took place on March 2.

The commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Homes, presented the awards.