- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2019

A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots with the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron needed to be “perfect” on thousands of engagements in Raqqa, Syria, and perfection is what they delivered.

A squadron of “warthog” specialists recently received the Gallant Unit Citation for heroism during Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) — a first for an individual squadron and just the fifth time the Air Force has given the award since its creation in 2001.

The Gallant Unit Citation is the second-highest honor an Air Force unit can receive.

“It’s quite an award, and it’s something you can be really proud of as a team,” Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, said during a ceremony last month, Military Times reported Wednesday.

What made the operations, conducted between July 2017 and January 2018, so difficult for the pilots was the “dense, urban” environment filled with hidden terrorists, Lt. Col. Craig Morash, 74th EFS commander, said. 

The A-10 has been used since the 1970s, but the Syrian environment offered unique challenges for the aircraft, which can support ground troops by flying “low and slow” over targets.

“I’m getting nine lines [radio calls from Joint Terminal Attack Controllers] saying, ‘Hey I need you to drop this four-story building in a city,’ which is fundamentally different from what we, or what I expected, certainly,” said Maj. Michael Dumas.

“Danger-close engagements, typically a rarity, were the daily norm,” Lt. Morash said in another press release, Military Times reported. “As close-air support pilots, we would rather put our lives on the line than risk injuring a friendly on the ground. To avoid our greatest fear, we had to be perfect on every weapons pass … all 4,100 of them.”

The “Flying Tigers” are based out of Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

Military officials estimate 3,100 ISIS fighters were killed during their airstrikes.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide