The Distinguished Flying Cross was recently awarded to an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, for efforts he conducted more than a decade earlier during a military search-and-rescue operation in Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Mike Hilkert, the 303rd Fighter Squadron’s operations director, won the DFC with heroism on Oct. 2 as a result of a mix of local leadership support and a little of retrospect. The military’s seventh-highest decoration recognizes heroism or exceptional success in aerial flight, notably in hazardous combat situations. According to the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman, Hilkert supervised the deployment of 21 aircraft in a six-hour engagement on April 23, 2011. Clearing two landing zones, rescuing two special ops jumpers and a downed OH-58D Kiowa helicopter pilot, and assisting 32 soldiers in evacuating the area were all part of the mission.
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