MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. - Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, presented Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 with two Distinguished Flying Crosses and five Air Medals in their hangar aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River, June 28.
The Marines were awarded for the bravery and courage shown during a mission to insert a reconnaissance raid force into a heavily-defended enemy landing zone in Afghanistan in June 2012.
This is the first time Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey pilots have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Despite suffering damage to the Osprey’s critical flight systems, Maj. Michael W. Hutchings displayed poise and demeanor by quickly reassessing the landing plan and returning to the heavily-defended objective area to reinforce the raid force enabling them to successfully complete their mission.
“Receiving the award is definitely gratifying,” said Hutchings. “I couldn’t have done anything without my Marines.”
Capt. David W. Haake also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his action under fire and his calm directions when an Afghan soldier was shot.
Even after Haake’s Osprey received 12 shots to critical flight controls, fuel systems and a severe fuel leak, he was able to maneuver the Osprey to a safe landing zone.
“Haake’s bold and heroic actions in the face of danger saved the lives of Marines and an Afghan soldier,” according to the award citation. Haake dedicated the award to his Marines.
“If it was not for them, I would not be standing here now,” he added.
“This is one of the few things that go on in a general’s day that are truly fun,” said Hedelund, after pinning the medals on the Marines. “It’s a great honor, from a Marine Corps’ perspective. This is what it’s all about.”
The following Marines were awarded the Air Medal for their actions during the same mission: Capt. Joel. A. Vandenende, Capt. David R. Austin, Sgt. John M. Leist, Sgt. Shane M. Moreland and Sgt. Matthew E. Belleci.