July 30th, 2007 12:27 EST
Pilots Recognizes for Daring Rescue Mission
BAGHDAD — 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 ceremony Friday in the Victory Base Complex .
U.S. Army 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.
U.S. Army 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 the Distinguished Flying Cross.
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 BaghdadInternational Airport where the pilots were dropped off.
While this was taking place, their Apache wingmen were circling above providing security.
Those two pilots, U.S. Army 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."
(Story by Spc. Nathan Hoskins)