AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Capt. George Collings was presented with one of the Air Force’s highest honors Monday for his actions while deployed to Iraq.
Collings, an F-16 pilot with the 510th Fighter Squadron, earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for helping save American servicemembers and Iraqi allies who were in a large firefight with insurgents.
Collings’ father, Maj. Gen. Michael Collings, senior U.S. Defense representative to Egypt, presented the medal to him in a ceremony on the flight line.
“As a father, it was really an incredible experience to be here,” the elder Collings said in a news release issued by the 31st Fighter Wing. “As a fellow aviator, I particularly understand the significance of what George did to be honored and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Collings was stationed with the 510th at Balad Air Base on Jan. 28 when a call came in asking for close air support. An Apache helicopter had gone down and a mix of American and Iraqi elements trying to rescue the crew had run into entrenched enemy forces while trying to get to the crew. Earlier attempts to dislodge the enemy forces — including strafing runs by other Apaches — didn’t appear to be making headway.
So Collings, flying at 14,000 feet, dropped a 500-pound bomb directly into the enemy trenches. He had to maneuver his aircraft in order to direct the bomb away from allied forces who were well within the bomb’s potential kill range. The bomb killed or wounded those in the trenches, allowing ground forces to storm their position.
“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to help the guys out on the ground doing all the ‘real work,’” Collings said in the release.