View Full Version : U.S. Andrew Lipina , Distinguished Flying Cross, Afghanistan

08-17-2009, 03:33 PM
Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded to U.S. and Foreign military personnel and civilians who have displayed extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States, in military operations involving conflict with a foreign force, or while serving with a friendly nation engaged in armed conflict against a force in which the United States is not a belligerent party

Andrew Lipina


Awards and Citations

Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Captain Andrew J. Lipina, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism and gallantry in action as F-16CG fighter pilot, 18th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, on 4 March 2002. During the third day of Operation ANACONDA, Captain Lipina learned of a downed MH-47 helicopter with the survivors actively taking fire, and departed assigned airspace to immediately support the recovery effort. Thirty-nine personnel were on board when a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack disabled their aircraft. En route to the site Captain Lipina quickly took control of external communication and coordinated with command and control assets to relocate air refueling tanker assets to support the rescue effort. He further deconflicted with two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and two F-15Es near the crash site. His formation quickly coordinated with the Ground Forward Air Controller (GFAC) to establish situational awareness. With the F-15E out of ammunition, Captain Lipina immediately employed 20-mm. cannon fire to neutralize the enemy troops that were directly firing upon the survivors from within 100 meters. He made two strafing runs, each closer to the crash site than the previous, with little regard for his own safety in order to help protect them from being overrun. These strafing passes were not only into rapidly rising mountainous terrain, but also directly in the face of the same small arms that downed the helicopter. His skill and determination forced the enemy troops to stop the attack on the downed helicopter crew and friendly forces and concentrate on digging in under the cover of a tree located approximately 50 meters from the crashed MH-47. After expending all 500 rounds of 20-mm. ammunition he coordinated with command and control assets to inform them of the disposition of friendly casualties and the location of their tanker. With their assigned tanker experiencing a air-refueling malfunction, Captain Lipina rapidly pointed the formation to the next closest tanker and masterfully coordinated to move it toward the crash site. Upon returning to the crash site from air refueling, the GFAC reported that the previously pinned down enemy had begun to close in on their position again. His actions resulted in the flight's ability to maintain continuous contact with the GFAC and continue to threaten the advancing enemy forces for over two and a half hours. After he had verified from command and control that no other airborne assets had 20-mm. or light ordnance, Captain Lipina's flight lead dropped 500 pound bombs within 100 meters of the crash site in order to keep the enemy forces at bay. Captain Lipina expertly sanitized the area for MANPADS and anti-aircraft artillery in the hostile and hazardous region of the downed helicopter. This was extremely important since a previous flight has been engaged by MANPADS. Meanwhile a second GFAC reported two critically wounded soldiers requiring immediate air evacuation. While his lead continued to work on pinning down the enemy, Captain Lipina began to coordinate for the air evacuation and offered his remaining bombs to escort the rescue helicopters through an area with numerous small arms and RPG threats. Additionally, he coordinated for other assets to move into position to support the survivors on the ground. The undaunted courage and heroism of Captain Lipina undoubtedly saved the lives of 21 uninjured survivors and 10 wounded in the crash site and enabled the safe recovery of all 39 Americans.

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