Two USAF Pilots Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross
The Distinguished Flying Cross is not often awarded, let alone twice in one unit. But that’s exactly what happened in a ceremony earlier in November. Maj. John Tice and Lt. Col. Anthony Roe were awarded the medal for their A-10 heroics in saving the lives of US ground troops 10 years ago in Afghanistan. the ceremony was held at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, in early November, 2019.
“Very rarely is the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded. Even more rarely is the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded twice in the same day to two members of the exact same fighter squadron.” Lt. Col. Rick Mitchell, commander, 303rd Fighter Squadron
Lt Col Anthony Roe (aka “Crack”)
The pilot, Lt Col Roe, was not a novice and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross two times previously. He knew what to do in the chaos of the battle southeast of Bagram Air Base in 2008. His task was to support a resupply convoy travelling through “mountainous area.” And there was no JTAC on the ground to assist with guiding the airstrikes, so he had to manually take care of business. And he did so without loss of US troops. Roe’s wingman that day was Retired Brig. Gen. Jim Mackey, who also presented the medal.
“At one point, a smoke grenade landed on the hillside and rolled down next to the soldiers engaged with the enemy.
“Next thing we hear is, ‘do not shoot that smoke.’ We figured that out,” Mackey said during the ceremony. “A second mark goes up about two-thirds up the ridge line — that’s our target.”
Roe made his first pass with the A-10’s gun, but the 30 mm rounds missed because of a weapons system error, the Air Force said. On the next pass, Roe manually adjusted the system to get the elevation right and fired seven rockets, hitting the enemy about 130 feet from the friendly forces, Mackey said.
“The extensive, deadly firefight lasted over an hour and Roe’s precise, timely and accurate firepower saved the lives of 16 U.S. Army members,” the Air Force statement said. “Before the pilots arrived, they were down to their last clip of ammunition with plans to charge the hill.” Stripes
Major John Tice (aka “Sapper”)
Major Tice was awarded the medal by Col. Mike Schultz of the 442 Air Wing for his actions on December 2, 2010. He spotted a Taliban fighter scouting the movements of the troops and notified the troops, which enabled them to “neutralize” the threat. But it didn’t stop there.
After that, the Taliban launched an ambush with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and small-arms fire.
“Within seconds, the fierce battle intensified,” the medal citation said. “Without any hesitation, Tice descended into the tactical effective range of the small-arms fire.”
Tice performed six low-altitude passes, hitting Taliban fighters at four different fighting positions. He fired 1,140 rounds from the A-10’s gun, the Air Force said.
“As a result, he eliminated 32 enemy combatants with zero casualties to coalition forces, and saved the lives of 50 U.S. Marines, 24 U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers and one U.S. Air Force airman,” the Air Force said. Stripes
Featured photo: L-Lt Col Anthony Roe, R- Major John Tice –Photos by Alex Chase, USAF.