Jabara Award honors aviators' efforts
/ Published April 03, 2003
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFPN) -- Two Air Force helicopter pilots have earned the 2003 Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship.
Majs. Leighton Anderson and Edward Lengel, both 1992 academy graduates, earned the award for their contributions to airpower during Operation Enduring Freedom.
This is the first time the award has been given to more than one graduate since 1988. The award is named in honor of Jabara, America's first jet ace, and given annually to an Air Force Academy graduate whose actions directly associated with an aerospace vehicle set him or her apart from contemporaries.
Anderson is an MH-53M Pave Low III helicopter pilot who used a "radar altitude hold technique" he developed to land during an Operation Enduring Freedom mission.
During attempts to extract a special forces team from a narrow, high-altitude landing zone, several helicopters had been unable to land because the area was obscured with dust. Anderson arrived and used his technique to land in the dust-out conditions and retrieve the troops.
Lengel, an MH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter pilot, navigated hostile territory in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda to evacuate wounded soldiers.
While waiting for his pararescuemen to return to the helicopter, enemy troops fired several explosive rounds at the helicopter. Lengel directed AC-130 gunships to quell the hostile fire, allowing his pararescuemen to load four wounded soldiers onto the helicopter. Now overloaded and flying in high-altitude conditions, Lengel piloted his helicopter 10 feet above the ground and down a dry streambed until he was able to gain sufficient airspeed to get airborne.