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Jabara award honors aviator’s contributions

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFPN) -- Academy officials named an Air Force pilot the winner of the 2004 Colonel James Jabara Award for Airmanship for his contributions to airpower during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Maj. Jason Hanover, a 1992 academy graduate, is assigned to the 352nd Operations Support Squadron at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England.

The Jabara award, named in honor of Col. James Jabara, America's first jet ace, is given annually to an Air Force Academy graduate whose actions directly associated with an aerospace vehicle set him or her apart from contemporaries.

Major Hanover demonstrated both heroism and sustained superior performance as instructor pilot, aircraft commander and mission commander of an MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft, officials said. From combat success against the Taliban and al-Qaida in OEF to multiple crises responses throughout Africa, Major Hanover demonstrated unequaled leadership, skill and service, officials said.

One mission was lauded by the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Dagger commander as "the most significant mission of the war ... accelerating (OEF) by three months." The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cited Major Hanover for "exceptional skill and courage (in OIF)."

Throughout OEF, Major Hanover logged more than 229 hours, airdropping 265,000 pounds of warfighting equipment on 18 different drop zones located in every geographic quadrant of Afghanistan. This led to the fall of key Taliban strongholds in Mazar-e-Sharif, Konduz, Jalalabad, Kabul and Kandahar, officials said. He led his two-ship formation through an 18-hour, 3,860-mile mission, overcoming enemy anti-aircraft artillery attacks. The mission saved the lives of a 12-man special operations forces team engaged by advancing Taliban, and energized the ground war by securing northern alliance loyalty.

Major Hanover later flew what is hailed as the most meritorious flight of the year, one of the most critical flights of OIF, and potentially the most decisive mission in the war on terrorism, officials said. His assignment was to assault and secure two austere airstrips and secure more than half of the Iraqi forces isolated to ease the coalition's southern advance. Major Hanover's low-level combat infiltration against constant enemy fire March 22, 2003, accomplished the critical task of establishing a forward-staging base for future special operations forces strikes in northern Iraq.

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