NAS Lemoore Search and Rescue crew earns Distinguished Flying Cross

Article Courtesy, NAS Lemoore
NAS Lemoore Search and Rescue crew earns Distinguished Flying Cross

For its heroic and outstanding achievement in rescuing 46 civilians and four dogs during the California Creek Fire in September 2020, an NAS Lemoore Search and Rescue crew was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Flying Cross on May 26 at NAS Lemoore.

The MH-60S helicopter crew was comprised of Lt. Brandon Tinkham as the SAR mission commander, Lt. Joshua Tassone as the SAR co-pilot, Chief Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) Jesse Peterson as the crew chief, and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Tyler Hodge as the SAR Medical Technician.

On Sept. 5 and 7-8, the crew flew a combined seven sorties totaling 10.2 flight hours and rescued 46 civilians and four dogs from mortal danger. Repeatedly disregarding their own safety, they flew through the night in a severely degraded and dynamic environment in extremely hazardous and life-threatening conditions. Through their perseverance and expert employment of their aircraft, the crew executed its mission without hesitation or reservation and prevented a mass casualty event.  Lt. Tassone, Lt. Tinkham, AWSC Peterson, and SMT Hodge repeatedly volunteered their services in the face of known and unknown perils.

“I am not surprised in the least at the bravery and heroism of LASSO 02’s crew. Their willingness to respond – despite the risks involved – and rescue those who were in imminent danger during the Creek Fire is a superb testament to their training, discipline, and courage. They are genuinely and unconditionally deserving of being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. We are incredibly proud to count them among our numbers here at NAS Lemoore,” said NAS Lemoore Commanding Officer Capt. Douglas Peterson.

The Distinguished Flying Cross may be awarded to any service member while serving in the capacity of the Armed Forces, who distinguish themselves for heroism or outstanding achievement while participating in aerial flight. For heroism, the act must involve action in the face of danger and well above the actions of others under similar circumstances. For extraordinary achievement, the act must be so exceptional that it clearly sets apart the individual from his or her colleagues. 

The Distinguished Flying Cross traces its roots to World War I when military aviation was first used in combat. On July 2, 1926, the Distinguished Flying Cross was established by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge on Jan. 28, 1927.

The SAR crew joins all those who have earned the award, such as U.S. Army Corps reservist Captain Charles A. Lindbergh, and aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright.


NAS Lemoore Search and Rescue crew earns Distinguished Flying Cross

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