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Heroes and Patriots
By USAF TSgt. Amaani Lyle

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Helicopter Pilot Receives Cheney Award
(December 11, 2010)

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WASHINGTON (12/7/2010 - AFNS) -- An HH-60G helicopter pilot received the Cheney Award from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz here Oct. 15 for the rescue of two critically injured Marines in Helmand Valley, Afghanistan.
Maj. John G. Mangan, the assistant director of operations for the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., led his formation of two HH-60Gs on July 2, 2009, while in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to his citation, Major Mangan executed multiple approaches into two different landing zones despite intense enemy fire and a lack of communications with ground forces.

"We were holding a few miles away trying to make contact with the ground commander while enemy forces were within 300 meters to the west, north and south," Major Mangan said. "It was a difficult situation and a lucky decision, but I said to myself, 'we're not gonna call it quits,' knowing people's lives were on the line."

During the rescue, his wingman's aircraft took enemy fire, causing Major Mangan to
 Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presents Maj. John G. Mangan with the Cheney Award Oct. 15, 2010, at the Pentagon. Major Mangan received the award for his actions as the pilot of an HH-60 Pave Hawk on a rescue mission in Helmland Valley, Afghanistan. Without ground communications or airborne support, Major Mangan managed to land and save the lives of two critically injured Marines under intense enemy fire. Major Mangan is currently assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presents Maj. John G. Mangan with the Cheney Award Oct. 15, 2010, at the Pentagon. Major Mangan received the award for his actions as the pilot of an HH-60 Pave Hawk on a rescue mission in Helmland Valley, Afghanistan. Without ground communications or airborne support, Major Mangan managed to land and save the lives of two critically injured Marines under intense enemy fire. Major Mangan is currently assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)
execute the final phase of the rescue without airborne mutual support.

"My wingman almost got shot down altogether; a bullet passed a couple of feet away from his head," the major said. "He flew away to assess the damage on his aircraft, and once he realized it was still battle-worthy, he returned to continue the fight and assist in the rescue."

Though the major's decisions as he engaged enemy forces saved the lives of two Marines, he credits his team for completing the daunting mission.

"There were 15 people on the flight who put their lives at risk to do the right thing and save these guys; it wasn't just me," the major said. "Each one of them was absolutely critical for the mission to be successful."

Note: The Cheney Award is presented each year to aviators who demonstrate an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian venture. Established in 1927, the award is in memory of 1st Lt. William Cheney, who was killed in an air collision over Italy in 1918.

By USAF TSgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office
Copyright 2010

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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