Lieutenant Colonel Karl Ingeman
As part of Operation ODYSSEY DAWN, on the night of March 21, 2011, Lieutenant Colonel
Kar l “Buzz” Ingeman led a two-ship formation of F-16s from Aviano Air Base, Italy, on a
mission to aid in the protection of Benghazi from advancing Libyan government forces. Upon
arrival in the joint operations area, Colonel Ingeman checked in on their designated frequency and
heard the words that no fighter pilot wants to hear: “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Chutes in the air!”
An F-15E pilot and his weapons systems officer had just ejected from their Strike Eagle before it
crashed into the desert of eastern Libya.
After quickly topping their fuel loads from a nearby air-refueling tanker, Colonel Ingeman and his wingman flew inland over hostile territory to the crash site. Upon arrival, Colonel Ingeman took over the scene, relaying updates and coordinates, and informing the downed pilot that help was on the way even as unknown ground forces closed in on the pilot’s position. Then, without regard for his safety, Colonel Ingeman descended to low altitude, the engagement zone of many enemy surface-to-air missile systems, and performed a high-speed “show of force.” He dispensed flares to help him mark the survivor’s location and identify several enemy vehicles that were rapidly closing in on him.
Once he was back at altitude, Colonel Ingeman reassured the downed pilot that he had visual contact on the approaching vehicles with the aid of his night vision goggles and w ould not allow enemy forces to reach him. Colonel Ingeman then performed a second show of force over the nearest vehicle, dispensing the remainder of his flares and causing the vehicles to move away. With the immediate threat of hostile ground forces eliminated, Colonel Ingeman resumed overwatch and remained on station well past minimum fuel levels to ensure continuous over flight between on-scene commanders. After he was able to refuel his aircraft, he guided rescue aircraft with the downed pilot aboard in and out of hostile territory.
Through his valorous actions, flight leadership, and tactical prowess, Lieutenant Colonel Ingeman directly aided the rescue and ensured the return of an Airman to safety.