|KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea, Sept. 13, 2007 — An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron here was recently awarded the Distinguish Flying Cross for his extraordinary achievement while flying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Capt. David Anderson, a 35th FS flight commander, received the medal from Col. C.Q. Brown, the 8th Fighter Wing commander.
"Captain Anderson distinguished himself with courage and flight skill during combat operations enabling ground forces to get out of harm's way," Brown said. "It was my honor to award him the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is one shining example of many airmen who contribute to the fight every day."
From September 2006 to January 2007, Anderson was assigned to the 524th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base, Iraq. During this time, which was his first deployment, the F-16 pilot flew missions in support of ground forces fighting against insurgents throughout Iraq.
Early on the morning of Nov. 16, on a routine combat mission, Anderson flew under the call sign Hound 72, alongside his flight lead Capt. Nick Sweeney. Fifteen minutes after arriving over Kirkuk, Iraq, Anderson said the pair was redirected to support troops east of Baghdad.
"By the time we arrived on station that morning, the Army platoon that needed support had been in continuous contact with the enemy for 40 hours," Anderson said.
He said the joint terminal attack controller attached to the Army platoon on the ground, whose call sign was Brewmaster 46, tasked the fighters to search for a vehicle that had been sighted southeast of the platoon's position.
Several minutes later, Anderson said the platoon came under heavy small-arms fire from an enemy dug in behind a small dirt berm.
"We were flying at about 12,000 feet when all of a sudden our radios exploded with the sound of Brewmaster 46 screaming that they (ground troops) were under attack, and were effectively pinned down" he said. In the initial volley of the ambush the platoon leader was fatally wounded.
It was then the JTAC immediately began directing the F-16 pilots to the location of the attack while still continuing to fire his weapon at the enemy.
"We did three low passes over the area in an attempt to determine the exact location of the enemy, but were unsuccessful. After the third pass, Captain Sweeney was forced to disengage and proceed to the tanker to air refuel, leaving me on station," Anderson said.
"At the typical higher altitudes F-16s fly, it's almost impossible with the naked eye to spot ground fighting between small, dismounted units," he said.
This forced the pilots to fly at much lower altitudes when supporting the ground forces.
Anderson said this particular mission was definitely challenging.
"I can't begin to describe how stressful it was. This was a