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Patriotic Article
Troops and Veterans
By USAF MSgt. Stan Parker

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F-16 Pilot Receives Kolligian Safety Award
(June 23, 2009)

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz assisted by Koren Kolligan presents Lt. Col. Booth M. Johnston with the Koren Kolligian Jr. Safety Trophy June 16. He received the award for an October 2007 incident in which he suffered a severe back and neck injury during a high-G maneuver. Despite the near total loss of use and lack of sensation in his hands and feet, Colonel Johnston was eventually able to level the aircraft and land at Ellington Field, Texas.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz assisted by Koren Kolligan presents Lt. Col. Booth M. Johnston with the Koren Kolligian Jr. Safety Trophy June 16.
 WASHINGTON (6/17/2009 - AFNS) --- One of the most coveted Air Force safety awards was presented by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz to an Air National Guard pilot during a ceremony here June 16.

The award recipient, Lt. Col. Booth M. Johnston, received the Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy for an October 2007 incident in which he suffered a severe back and neck injury during a high-G maneuver. Despite the near total loss of use and lack of sensation in his hands and feet, Colonel Johnston was eventually able to level the aircraft and land at Ellington Field, Texas.

"It takes a certain amount of courage, tenacity and focus in any aircraft emergency. In this case, it wasn't the airplane that had a mechanical problem, rather it was the aviator himself, making recovery of the aircraft a very special achievement," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.

In his 47th year attending the ceremony, Koren Kolligian, nephew of the trophy's namesake, assisted General Schwartz in the presentation.

"The Air Force has been infused in our family culture," Mr. Kolligian said. "We are very proud to represent my uncle and honor great airmanship."
"Not only did he match the standards established for this award, but I think it is a reflection of how people rise to the occasion no matter how difficult the circumstances," General Schwartz said. "For that, your Air Force is grateful."

The Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy is presented each year in the name and memory of 1st Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr., an Air Force pilot declared missing in the line of duty when his T-33 aircraft disappeared off the California coast Sept. 14, 1955.

"This is a great honor to me," Colonel Johnston said. "But I'd like to thank my two wingmen for going above and beyond, which is what the Air Force is all about."

The Kolligian Trophy was established in 1958, and is the only Air Force individual safety award personally presented by the Air Force chief of staff.

The trophy, a symbolic representation of an Air Force jet pilot mounted on a marble base, was established to recognize outstanding feats of airmanship by aircrew members who by extraordinary skill, exceptional alertness, ingenuity, or proficiency, averted accidents or minimized the seriousness of the accidents in terms of injury, loss of life, aircraft or property damage.

Article by USAF MSgt. Stan Parker
USAF photo by Michael Pausic
Secretary of the Air Force Office
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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