Face of Defense: Marine Aviator Receives British Honor
By Marine Corps Sgt. Justin M. Boling
Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps
FORT MEADE, Md., Feb. 13, 2014 A UH-1Y Venom helicopter pilot received the British Distinguished Flying Cross yesterday at the British Embassy in Washington.
Marine Corps Capt. Brian Jordan, a UH-1Y Venom pilot, received the British Distinguished Flying Cross at the British Embassy in Washington, Feb. 12, 2014. He earned the award for actions that helped to save the lives of two British Grenadier Guards while deployed in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, June 21, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Justin M. Boling
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Corps Capt. Brian Jordan, the second Marine aviator to earn the medal since World War II, was honored for his actions June 21, 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan
“This has been a very amazing and humbling experience for me,” Jordan said. “I really am accepting this on behalf of my flight crew and all of the maintainers who work tirelessly on keeping these aircraft operating. Without them, none of these actions would have been possible.”
Jordan said he the direct efforts of his aircrew -- Capt. Joshua Miller, Gunnery Sgt. Andrew Bond, Staff Sgt. Steven Seay and Cpl. Joshua Martinez – made the award possible. The captain also gave credit to the support of Lt. Col. Stephen Lightfoot and Capt. Frank Jublonski, the pilots of the AH-1Z Viper Super Cobra accompanying them on the mission.
“I am happy for him and anyone else who could accomplish something like this,” said Bond, the crew chief during the mission. “I am very proud of him.”
Jordan arrived on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in late May 2012 with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469. He and his flight crew were tasked with a mission to support the British Grenadier Guards.
“We worked together as a constant combat crew, and I had become very used to working with him,” Bond, with more than 14 years of experience, said. “Still being a relatively young pilot, he was doing well and was always open to listen to us.”
The squadron’s aircraft spent 40 minutes providing reconnaissance of buildings surrounding the area the guardsmen were patrolling, and when requested, they supplied cover fire. Jordan and his aircrew had depleted most of their fuel and spent ordinance to suppress an enemy attack, which had pinned down the British soldiers.
Jordan and his crew were preparing to return to Bastion when they saw an explosion.
“I remember the [joint tactical air controller] saying over the radio, ‘Man Down, man down, request immediate medevac,” Jordan said. “One of the guardsmen had stepped on an [improvised explosive device]. He had lost a limb and was going into shock.”
Jordan and his crew began to discuss the situation and began preparing a medical evacuation request form for higher headquarters.
“It can be a little frustrating at times, but you have to follow the orders you are briefed,” Bond said. “The end state was somebody needs our help, and you don’t want to let them down.”
The crew calculated it would take more than 30 minutes for another aircraft to come and pick up the two wounded British guardsmen.
“I talked to the crew, and we made the assessment that we were all comfortable with going down to pick up the wounded soldier,” Jordan said. “We then heard over the radio that there was no time and he won’t make it. We all agreed this is what we need to do. We talked to our section leader and told him our intention, and he said they would provide cover fire as we went down for the pick.”
“Both Staff Sergeant Seay and I are search and rescue qualified, so we began to rearrange and prepare the inside of the aircraft the best we could,” Bond said.
The aircrew landed between enemy fighters and the British troops to pick up the wounded soldiers.
“The situation made it feel like we were on the ground for an eternity,” Jordan said, “even though we could not have been on the ground for more than 10 seconds. Both aircraft were in a very low fuel state. We pulled full torque and got the soldier back to Bastion for medical attention.”
Both wounded British soldiers survived.
“I feel like we were just doing our duty,” Jordan said. “We took the actions we needed to make sure we saved a soldier’s life. Do I think I went above and beyond? No, absolutely not. We are just doing our job to support all the ground forces in any way possible.”
Jordan is preparing to serve as a pilot instructor at Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. He will teach newly commissioned pilots to fly the UH-1Y Venom.
“You go through a lot of training to make sure you can make the hard decision when things do not go the way you anticipate,” Jordan said. “It is not just pilots. It is all Marines — Marines always do what is right.”