Distinguished Flying Cross Recipient
Brian M. Kennedy
||Semper Fidelis, the Latin
phrase which means ‘always faithful,' is the well known Marine Corps
motto, and these words aptly describe Marine Lt. Col. Brian M.
Kennedy, an AH-1W Cobra helicopter pilot. He has faithfully
demonstrated his courage, honor, and continued commitment for his
country and his brotherhood for the past 19 years.|
From March 20, 2003 to April 14, 2003, he distinguished himself
while heroically leading his flight against Iraqi forces from the
opening night of hostilities through the fall of organized Iraqi
forces in Tikrit.
Kennedy, who was a primary AH-1W flight leader, flew more than 71
combat missions, most of which were flown at night and during the
harshest of conditions to support I Marine Expeditionary Force's
rapid advance into Baghdad, Iraq.
On March 20, he led his flight in degraded weather conditions and at
extreme risk from enemy forces along the Safwan Hill border
providing the first fires of the war by prepping a landing zone.
Although a CH-46E assault aircraft with recon teams was prepared to
fast rope in, they could not approach the zone because of poor
visibility. Nevertheless, Kennedy successfully engaged
known Iraqi defensive
positions and maneuvered his second section to engage Iraqi scout
vehicles on the north side of Safwan Hill.
Three days later, Kennedy began
leading his section through a battlefield in the vicinity of the Al
Rumaylah oil field that was ringed with sporadic air defense
artillery and small arms fire. Visibility was degraded because of
oil smoke and the fires associated with burning Iraqi equipment.
This mission, that required 12 flying hours for Kennedy, concluded
the evening of March 25.
Conducting close air support missions in support of the British 7th
Armored Brigade in Al Basra on March 28, Kennedy's section
successfully engaged numerous Iraqi units, which proved critical to
the maneuver of British forces in their bid for the city. He guided
his section through intense air defense artillery and small arms
fire with Iraqi forces at minimum range due to reduced visibility
until the mission was accomplished.
Kennedy flew repeated missions at low altitudes and slow airspeeds
to maintain ground and air contact in marginal weather. Many of his
fellow servicemen have credited Kennedy's flight with decimating
eight Iraqi artillery positions and an enormous artillery stash,
which was critical to the Special Republican Guard's ability to
sustain their fight.
The latter was accomplished on April 5 when his team was forced to
fly below 300 feet due to oil smoke with 500 foot high-tension lines
in the area. Kennedy persevered with several successful strikes.
Unbeknownst to him at the time, his flight destroyed the remaining
ballistic missile system which had the capability of delivering
weapons of mass destruction against Allied Forces in Kuwait.
Never thinking about self before duty, Kennedy has often moved his
aircraft to suppress the enemy's fire to allow other helicopters and
aircraft to continue on uninterrupted target runs.
He described his deployment and missions this way. “I am an ordinary
Marine who served in extraordinary circumstances supporting
extraordinary Marines on the ground who were often nose to nose with
For his superb airmanship, inspiring courage, leadership, and loyal
devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Kennedy
was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.
Information and Photo and information courtesy of U.S. Marine
Corps / DOD
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