Valor Awards



The Aviator Valor Awards for 2007



2007 Aviators Post Valor Awards Military Ball

L to R: Lt. Col. Allan Pepin, US Army (Presenter); Mr. David Cooper, Father of CW5 David Cooper (Recipient, unable to attend); CDR Thomas Maine, USCG (Presenter); Lt. Matthew Furlong, USCG (Recipient); Maj. Jack Aalborg, USAF (Recipient), Col. Gabe Sunshine, Post Commander; Maj. Michael Baltzer, USAF, Post Coordinator

CW5 David Cooper, U.S. Army  

CW5 David Cooper distinguished himself through conspicuous gallantry in action while serving as an AH-6 Flight Lead Pilot, operating against an enemy force northeast of Baghdad, Iraq. On 27 November 2006, CW5 Cooper launched his AH-6 as part of a daytime Helicopter Assault Force (HAF) in order to kill or capture an Iraqi-based foreign fighter facilitator. During the flight, CW5 Cooper's AH-6 wingman sustained significant damage by enemy fire and crash landed. 'The remainder of the HAF landed in a defensive perimeter around the badly damaged aircraft. Although both pilots were without significant injury, the aircraft could no longer be flown and the Air Mission Commander made the decision to secure the site and await a Downed Aircraft Recovery Team (DART).

Approximately 40 minutes after landing, several enemy trucks with heavy weapons moved into position and began engaging the ground force and aircraft with anti-aircraft machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire. The entire ground force was out-gunned and out-numbered. Without hesitation and while receiving direct enemy fire, CW5 Cooper and his co-pilot moved to their aircraft and took off to provide much-needed suppression on the enemy forces. Coming under intense enemy fire, CW5 Cooper began to engage the enemy. He made multiple passes, initially destroying several gun trucks and killing at least ten enemy personnel. At this point, all enemy weapon systems and personnel were clearly aiming at him, yet he continued to fly multiple gun runs straight into the heavy machine gun fire of the enemy and placed devastating fires upon them.

Out of ammunition and low on fuel, CW5 Cooper landed back at the ground force location and immediately began re-arming his helicopter with rockets and ammunition, and transferring fuel, from his wingman's downed aircraft. He then took off again and began to engage enemy vehicles and personnel. As he continued with his engagements, he repeatedly found that some of the rockets removed from the downed AH-6 malfunctioned and did not launch. Very much aware of the possibility that unstable rockets could detonate in his launcher, he continued to engage the enemy and destroyed several more gun trucks and killed nearly ten more personnel.

As a result of CW5 Cooper's devastating fire and aggressive actions, the enemy completely broke contact and began to flee the area. His performance of duty assured the survival of this embattled element and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the special operations community. His actions displayed the highest levels of valor and gallantry in combat and reflect great credit upon himself, this Command, and the United States Army.

Lt. Matthew Furlong,
U.S. Coast Guard

Lieutenant Matthew S. Furlong is cited for meritorious achievement in aerial flight while serving as Aircraft Commander aboard HH-60J helicopter 6034 on the night of 27 May 2006. After enduring three days of extreme weather, the 39-foot sailing vessel Caledonia II was left damaged and adrift in 20-foot seas, 295 nautical miles southeast of Cape Cod. Responding to their distress call, Lieutenant Furlong and his crew launched and flew through darkness in instrument meteorological conditions, fighting severe headwinds and dangerous lines of thunderstorms. The Caledonia II was at the extreme range limit of the HH-60J helicopter, testing every bit of Lieutenant Furlong's airmanship and skills in all phases of the harrowing mission.

He expertly oversaw the critical fuel calculations and masterfully orchestrated the ideal plan for the rescue of the five helpless sailors. His exceptional situational awareness ensured that a maximum range profile was maintained and, once on scene, he skillfully maneuvered the helicopter into a perfect hover position and began hoisting, despite the ferocious waves and lack of visual references. Lieutenant Furlong demonstrated keen situational awareness by skillfully managing CG 6034's on-scene time and upon reaching the predetermined bingo fuel state, made the critical decision to remain on scene for the additional time required to complete the last two hoists. Battling all of the elements, including the wildly swinging mast of the stricken vessel, he flawlessly maintained a steady hover, maneuvering as necessary to hoist each survivor. Once the fifth survivor was safely inside the cabin,

Lieutenant Furlong turned his attention to ensuring a safe transit to the closest point of land, recovering at Air Station Atlantic City with minimum fuel and ending the exhausting six-hour rescue mission with the sailors safely ashore. His superb airmanship, judgment, and decision-making saved the lives of five sailors nearly 300 miles offshore. Lieutenant Furlong's courage, judgment, and devotion to duty are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.

Major Jack Aalborg,
U.S. Air Force

Major John T. Aalborg distinguished himself in aerial combat over Afghanistan through aviation leadership excellence as Assistant Operations Officer and MC-130H Instructor Pilot, 7th Special Operations Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom. On 10 September 2006, while deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Major Aalborg launched his MC-130H Combat Talon II from alert to flawlessly execute an emergency re-supply airdrop to a special operations ground team critically low on ammunition and engaged in a firefight with Taliban forces.

In spite of two aircraft-grounding conditions, Major Aalborg led his crew and aircraft to a takeoff within forty-three minutes from notification. The crew's spot-on visual drop procedures delivered the ammunition to within twenty feet of the team's safe house door. The distinctive accomplishments of Major Aalborg reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

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