The Distinguished Flying Cross

The Distinguished Flying Cross (U.S. Air Force)

Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Gibbs was awarded Friday the Distinguished Flying Cross – one of the highest service medals awarded – at a ceremony held at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Gibbs – then a staff sergeant – was a door gunner on a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter that took part in a May 2011 rescue mission in the volatile Shorbak district of Afghanistan.

It was there, in the midst of one of the bloodiest years of the Operation Enduring Freedom mission, that a group of Army Pathfinders were lured into a minefield by insurgents. According to the award citation for then-Senior Airman Zachary Hoeh — who also was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor device – ten soldiers died as a result.

Gibbs and Hoeh were part of the crew called in to pick up and provide medical attention to the survivors. During the final portion of the evacuation, Gibbs’ helicopter lost power, reports the Albuquerque Journal. Gibbs provided guidance to the pilots that allowed them to clear the minefield and bring critically wounded soldiers to a medical facility.

Gibbs remains with the Air Force, serving as an air crew instructor with the 512th Rescue Squadron. He now has five downrange deployments under his belt.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of the Air Education and Training Command, traveled from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, to present Gibbs with his award.

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