General Recognizes Pilots for Daring Rescue Mission
By Spc. Nathan Hoskins, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Jul. 29, 2007 The top U.S. general in Iraq presented awards to four Apache pilots for their part in the July 2 rescue of two other pilots downed by enemy fire during a July 27 ceremony in the Victory Base Complex here.
Chief Warrant Officer Micah Johnson, right, shakes hands with Gen. David Petraeus, Multi-National Forces Iraq commander, after Petraeus presented him with the Distinguished Flying Cross during a ceremony in Baghdad July 27, 2007. U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Nathan Hoskins
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq, honored the four pilots of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, and eight others who helped rescue the pilots.
Chief Warrant Officer Allan Davison and Chief Warrant Officer Micah Johnson, both AH-64D Apache attack helicopter pilots for Company A, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, received Distinguished Flying Crosses.
Davison and Johnson landed their attack helicopter in a hostile area and evacuated the two downed OH-58 Kiowa helicopter pilots of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade.
Apaches only have two seats, so Johnson, the front seat pilot, let one of the Kiowa pilots take his seat in the Apache while he and the other Kiowa pilot strapped themselves to the outside of the aircraft and sat on the wings, said Johnson.
"It looked like they were both in pretty good shape, but one of them kind of looked like he had been through enough, like he was a little shocked, as I would be, too. I told him to get in front," he said.
Once the pilots were strapped in, Davison, the pilot in command, took off and headed to Baghdad International Airport where the pilots were dropped off.
While this was taking place, their Apache wingmen were circling above providing security.
Those two pilots, Chief Warrant Officer Seung Choi and Chief Warrant Officer Troy Moseley, received Air Medals for their efforts.
Although happy at being awarded medals and recognized by the top commander in Iraq, the pilots said their greatest reward was finding the downed pilots alive.
"We've seen a lot of aircraft shoot-downs," Johnson said in an interview after the rescue. "Every one that we've all probably seen, it's resulted in burning aircraft and black smoke and usually catastrophic loss of life. If not loss of life, then there have been serious injuries. Just to see those two alive, it was amazing. It was great."
(Army Spc. Nathan Hoskins is a journalist assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.)