Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not Your Father's Air Force XIV

(From left) Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, Capt. Nicholas Tsougas, Lt. Col. Dylan Wells, Capt. Leigh Larkin, retired Lt. Col. Donald Cornwell and National Aeronautic Association Chairman Walter Boyne.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Tiffany Trojca) (click for hi-res)
F-15E Aircrews Presented Mackay Trophy: Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and National Aeronautic Association Chairman Walter Boyne presented the 2010 Mackay Trophy to the four members of "Dude Flight" for their heroics actions last year in the cockpits of two F-15Es during a mission over Afghanistan. Now-retired Lt. Col. Donald Cornwell as well as Lt. Col. Dylan Wells, Capt. Leigh Larkin, and Capt. Nicholas Tsougas received the trophy, which recognizes the most meritorious flight in a given year, during NAA's fall awards dinner Monday in Arlington, Va. On April 6, 2010, these airmen, flying in F-15Es with call signs Dude-01 and Dude-02, performed show-of-force passes and subsequently deployed six joint direct attack munitions to protect a task force of some 30 coalition troops under attack by approximately 100 Taliban fighters in Bala Morgab. Their attacks killed more than 80 Taliban, saving the task force members' lives. (SAF/PA report by SSgt. Eric Donner) (See also NAA Mackay Trophy webpage.)
Congratulations to Colonels Cornwell and Wells and Captains Larkin and Tsougas.  This isn't the first time the Mackay trophy has been awarded to a female airman... I think the first female aircrew member was awarded the trophy in 2000... but it certainly gets the attention of the old geezers among us.  

I just can't imagine having a conversation with the wife that goes sumthin' like this:  
"How was your day, Honey?"  
"Oh, just the usual... knocked off 80 Taliban that were giving our guys a hard time..."
But I think it would be pretty cool.

Oh, and Capt. Larkin?  Square away those wings.  Ma'am.


  1. Maybe its the, err, shape of the uniform on a lady that has the wings and ribbons looking like they are off at an angle.

    She could fly my plane anytime though... of course now Sunny will hit me with Sexual Harrassment of something.

  2. There's more room on the mens uniforms for the decorations.

  3. A trophy for war?? I don't get it. Do they have blue ribbons too?

  4. Anon1: She could fly my plane, too.

    Skip: You're right.

    Anon2: It's obvious you "don't get it." Didn't your mama ever tell you it's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?

    "Do they have blue ribbons too?"
    Well, now that you asked... yes, they do. "They" also give blue ribbons for dumb-ass comments and you've won another to add to what I'm sure is a VERY impressive collection.

  5. I know people make jokes about the Air Force having it easy, but when they come in and save lives, it is just pretty awesome.

  6. That trophy was usually not given during war. It wasn't until Vietnam that they started giving it to bombardiers. The trophy was more about aviation firsts. Now it is meaningless.

    Enola Gay and Bockscar B-29 crews deserved that trophy then. They did a lot more than just push a button. They had to actually climb into the bomb bay and arm a nuclear weapon. Also, they got (way) more than 80.

    The people who deserve a trophy are the grunts who had to wade through all the body parts to get the body count. Meanwhile the F-15 gomers are in Abu Dhabi having beers at the O'club and slapping everyone on the back.

    I wish we would just nuke Pakistan and get it over with. Skip the trophy.

  7. Anon, how about a trophy today(Veteran's Day) for everyone who ever served?

    I imagine that service is not an easy stroll-in-the-park for anyone. For myself, I feel that I don't have the right to criticize, since I haven't had the experience of military service.

  8. I guess my point was, that the NAA is adrift. Sure, killing the enemy on a bombing mission is a good thing. Especially those savages.

    But a Trophy! That crew did nothing more than the millions before them, and the millions that will come after them. They did their job. There was nothing above and beyond the call of duty.

    I'm not one to give out trophies to all the participants. For example, I don't take my car to car shows that have 50 trophies. I go to shows that have one trophy. That pleases me. Even if I lose, which I do, but it gives me inspiration.

    Can you imagine fighter pilots in Vietnam who had 12 Migs in the air, and they were trying to bomb a deep target? After 8 of them get shot down, and the SAM's keep picking them off, they finally return home with less than half the planes they started with. They would shove that trophy up your kazoo, I guarantee.

    Bottom line, the NAA needs to be dismantled, and real aviation honored. I can't believe that somewhere, someplace, an Aviation first or impressive achievement occurred last year.

    1. Wow....Unless you've been in the shoes of these people, you have no right to say they don't deserve recognition. How do you know if they have nightmares about this or how quickly they had to make the decision to do something that the jet hadn't done in a long time and trust that they would make it through it all alive. You have no idea.

  9. Lou: It IS awesome when the AF saves lives, but that's what we do.

    "Meanwhile the F-15 gomers are in Abu Dhabi having beers at the O'club and slapping everyone on the back."

    I don't think this is the case, Anon1. Most of the USAF CAS guys fly out of airfields in The Af.

    Bottom line, the NAA needs to be dismantled, and real aviation honored.

    I think it's less the NAA and more the USAF, Anon2. The Mackay trophy is an Air Force trophy by definition, USAF determines what the "most meritorious flight of the year" is and tells NAA so. That's my understanding of the process; I might could be wrong.

  10. Pretty cool (except for the wings thing). Younger Daughter's neighbors, a married couple, are both zoomies stationed at LRAFB in Jacksonville. He does something on the flight crew(not sure what) and she pilots C-130s. Pretty cool, too.

    VW: marrini. More than one Marine?


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