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Oklahoma Air National Guard pilot receives Distinguished Flying Cross

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jennifer Proctor, 138th Fighter Wing

TULSA, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Air National Guard held a ceremony Sunday, December 5th, celebrating the heroic airborne acts of Lt. Col. Michael Coloney during a Taliban attack on U.S. and Afghan Special Forces in Afghanistan on April 30, 2018. 
Originally from Georgia, Coloney joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in October 2005, married his wife Courtney in 2010 and started a family, calling Tulsa home. With a legacy of valor and two previous generations of Air Force fighter pilots, it was only natural for Coloney to choose the life of a fighter pilot.
In 2018, Coloney deployed to Afghanistan with the 125th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. On April 30, 2018, during a mission to clear a village in the Kapisa province of Afghanistan, friendly special operations troops were engaged by over 80 specially trained Taliban fighters utilizing small arms, high-powered machine guns, sniper units, rockets, and grenades. The attack resulted in 11 casualties, including one American killed in action.
At the time of the enemy attack, Coloney was airborne nearby performing previously assigned air operations, and was immediately tasked to provide air support to enable friendly forces to break contact with the enemy. For approximately five hours, Coloney worked with the Combat Controller on the ground to employ GPS guided bombs and high angle strafe attacks on enemy combatants, at times less than 30 meters from friendly positions, allowing friendly forces to disengage with the enemy without further loss of life. It was his exemplary skill, outstanding airmanship and devotion to duty under extremely hazardous conditions that allowed Coloney to save the lives of so many U.S. and Afghan Special Forces troops that day, for which he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to an officer or enlisted person of the armed forces of the US for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The heroism or achievement must be entirely distinctive, involving operations that are not routine. It is the fourth highest award for heroism and is the highest award given for extraordinary aerial achievement.