story by: Gina Cavallaro
photo courtesy of: Cpl. Abigail M. Brown, USMC
It was the hottest landing zone they’d seen. On June 12, when the MV-22 Osprey touched down in Sangin, Afghanistan, its four-man crew faced multiple enemy fighting positions less than 100 yards away. It was a hellish three minutes scrambling to unload food, water and ammunition to infantrymen who’d been pinned down all day, and marked the first time in Afghanistan or Iraq that a Marine Osprey crew engaged the enemy with the aircraft’s ramp-mounted machine gun.
For their actions during that daring mission, the Marines — pilot Capt. Thomas Keech, co-pilot Capt. Matthew Cave, crew chief Sgt. Justin Barfield-Smith and observer-gunner Cpl. John Cederholm — were each awarded the Air Medal with combat “V” device, marking the first time since the Osprey first deployed into combat in 2007 that such awards have been given to a Marine aircrew, said Capt. Brian Block, a Marine spokesman. The men are assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.
Read more >>