Remembrance of Aviators
A day late, but it is appropriate to list the names of aviators who have received the Medal of Honor and to recognize those who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Medal of Honor recipients
General Christian F. Schilt, USMC: Director of Marine Corps Aviation.
Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, USN: Organized and led first flights over the north and south poles.
Major General Patrick Henry Brady, USA: Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
Brigadier General Frederick Walker Castle, USAAF: Posthumous Medal of Honor recipient.
Brigadier General Joe Foss, ANG: Second highest scoring Marine Corps ace of World War II and Governor of South Dakota.
Brigadier General Charles A. Lindbergh, USAFR: First person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Colonel Archie Van Winkle, USMC: World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran.
Colonel George Day, USAF: POW during the Vietnam War.
Colonel Jefferson J. DeBlanc, USMC: Shot down five planes in a single day.
Colonel James P. Fleming, USAF: Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
Colonel Joe M. Jackson, USAF: Combat veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Colonel James E. Swett, USMC: Shot down 5 planes on his first combat mission and recipient of 8 DFCs.
Colonel Leo K. Thorsness, USAF: Vietnam War veteran.
Captain Michael J. Estocin, USN: Missing in action in the Vietnam War.
Captain David McCampbell, USN: Top US Navy ace of World War II.
Lieutenant Colonel George A. Davis, USAF: High scoring Korean War ace.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Novosel, USAFR: Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerald O. Young, USAF: Vietnam War helicopter pilot.
Lieutenant Colonel Jay Zeamer, Jr., USAAF: Last surviving Army Air Forces Medal of Honor recipient.
Major Richard Bong, USAAF: Highest scoring American ace of World War II.
Major Horace S. Carswell, Jr., USAAF: World War II bomber pilot.
Major Thomas McGuire, USAAF: Second highest scoring American ace in World War II with 38 kills. Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, 3 Silver Stars and 6 DFCs.
Major Stephen W. Pless, USMC: Only Marine aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare, USN: Shot down 3 Japanese bombers and damaged two others on a single flight. Recipient of the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross and 2 DFCs.
Distinguished Flying Cross
First Lieutenant Joseph W. Geary, Jr., is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement in aerial flight. On 7 October 1944, Lieutenant Geary was navigator-observer of a B-24 type aircraft that was flying lead ship in a Group formation on an extremely vital and important mission to bomb the enemy oil refinery at Vienna/Winterhafen, Austria. This high priority enemy target produced large quantities of aviation fuel and its destruction was of great importance. Enroute to the target the formation experienced an intense and extremely accurate barrage of heavy type flak which shot down five (5) of our aircraft and severely damaged twenty-seven (27) others. During this barrage Lieutenant Geary’s ship was hit by numerous bursts of flak which made inoperative the #2 engine, severed hydraulic and fuel lines and partially severed the rudder control cables. The co-pilot was seriously wounded at the same time but the pilot, showing great skill, was able to lead the formation over the target, inflicting grave damage on the enemy installations. Then when the ship was forced to leave the formation and the navigator went to the flight deck to replace the wounded co-pilot, Lieutenant Geary took over the navigating duties. Showing superior professional skill, Lieutenant Geary then plotted the most direct course to an emergency field, successfully avoiding the numerous flak installations that covered the enemy territory. The aircraft finally reached a friendly field with only sixty (60) gallons of fuel left. Lieutenant Geary supervised the crew in preparing for a crash landing which was successfully done. To Lieutenant Geary’s exceptional skill and coolness in a hazardous situation must be given the credit for the safe return of the crew and the wounded co-pilot. By his extreme skill and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Geary has reflected great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.
Major John E. Appel is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary service while participating in aerial flight as an F-4D Phantom Aircraft Commander in Southeast Asia on 25 May 1970. On that date, Major Appel was assigned to attack anti-aircraft artillery positions which posed a serious threat to friendly air operations. Despite intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire Major Appel delivered his ordinance precisely on target, destroying three hostile anti-aircraft artillery weapons. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Major Appel reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Major John E. Appel is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for outstanding achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-4E Aircraft Commander in Southeast Asia on 2 November 1971. On that date, Major Appel led a flight of two F-4E fighter-bombers into hostile territory to attack and destroy three separate targets. Despite marginal weather and incessant hostile ground fire, Major Appel successfully destroyed one truck, one storage area, and one road segment. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Major Appel reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Major John E. Appel is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight as an F-4D Aircraft Commander in Southeast Asia on November 6, 1970. On that date, while conducting an air strike against a group of revetted anti-aircraft artillery sites Major Appel’s aircraft was struck by defending ground fire. Despite the threat to his life, Major Appel pressed the attack and successfully destroyed three hostile weapons. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Major Appel reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force. #4) Major John E. Appel is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight as an F-4E Aircraft Commander in Southeast Asia on September 11, 1971. On that date, Major Appel led a flight of two F-4E fighter bombers against a heavily fortified storage and supply complex. Despite intense hostile ground fire and adverse weather conditions, with complete disregard for his own safety, Major Appel precisely delivered his ordinance on target, resulting in several secondary explosions and the destruction of numerous supply structures and bunkers, thus hampering the opposing force’s logistical and offensive capability. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Major Appel reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force. John Appel is a member of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society.
Captain Armando Espinoza, United States Marine Corps, is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Helicopter Aircraft Commander in a two-plane section of CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters while attached to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 26B, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3D Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 10 April 2003. Captain Espinoza provided multiple day and night casualty evacuation missions in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ attack into Baghdad. His ability to tactically maneuver his helicopter in urban areas and maintain flawless situational awareness, helped render the enemy’s attack ineffective. Landing under enemy fire, he loaded casualties while the lead aircraft provided suppressive fires. He departed the zone while returning fire and conducting evasive maneuvering enroute. He made four repeated trips in order to ensure the evacuation of all wounded personnel. His leadership, situational awareness, and calm presence under fire ensured the safe evacuation of 28 Marines and a family of seven Iraqi nationals. By his superb airmanship, inspiring courage, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Captain Espinoza reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. Armando Espinoza is a member of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and just completed his fourth combat tour in Iraq.
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