Military Aviation

74th FS pilots have been awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for their actions in support of OIR

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to someone who distinguishes themselves in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight

On May 23, 2018, two Airmen received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in recognition of their actions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

As told by Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson, 23d Wing Public Affairs, in the article 74th FS pilots receive DFC, Maj. Matthew “Chowder” Cichowski and Capt. William “Archer” Dana both, 74th Fighter Squadron (FS) A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots, risked life and limb while deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to protect Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, from a common enemy.

“The bravery these two Airmen displayed in combat makes me extremely proud,” said Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, 9th Air Force commander. “You both demonstrated our aviators are the most highly capable professionals in the world.”

The DFC is awarded to someone who distinguishes themselves in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. Dana and Cichowski were active on the same deployment but were recognized for their actions on separate missions.

Dana and his wingman were alerted by a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) that the enemy had breached friendly lines in eight locations causing multiple casualties on Aug. 14, 2017.

“As soon as we checked in, there was an immediate need for support,” Dana said. “There was a sense of urgency felt. I needed to get out there quickly because good guys were dying.”

Maj. Gen. Scott Zobrist, left, 9th Air Force commander, places a Distinguished Flying Cross medal on Capt. William “Archer” Dana, 74th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot, during an award ceremony, May 23, 2018, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

In a three-hour period, Dana employed 11,000 pounds of ordnance, killing 37 enemies and destroying 10 enemy defensive fighting positions with no friendly losses. While low on fuel, having few bombs remaining and pro-regime aircraft tracking his location, Dana elected to conduct an airstrike on enemies attacking friendly forces from a four-story building just 30 meters away.

“At the point of weapons release, I trusted my training,” Dana added. “I had to account for the wind, because that affects where the ordnance drops, and with friendlies being that close, I wanted to take responsibility for everything. This is my weapon from my jet and the effects are on me.”

He accepted the risk and full responsibility for the danger-close attack and guided the weapon to the target, eliminating the enemy without any friendly injuries.

Throughout the deployment, mission after mission, the pilots of the 74th FS watched the enemies’ presence shrink and activity decline as they helped the SDF gain control of the region. However, toward the end of the deployment the enemy tried to regain control.

Cichowski was on a routinely scheduled combat mission on Jan. 9, 2018, when he and his wingman were alerted by a JTAC to provide close-air-support (CAS) for friendly forces who were taking fire. While successfully avoiding accurate surface-to-air fire, Cichowski led his wingman to strike enemy forces attempting to overrun friendly forces who were outnumbered 3-to-1.

“We’d been diving a lot and had already been shot at once,” Cichowski added. “We started to realize this is a coordinated attack and not a random fight like we originally thought. At this point, neither of us were strangers to combat with friendlies close. We knew what to do and how to correctly do it.”

Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist, left, 9th Air Force commander, presents Maj. Matthew “Chowder”’ Cichowski, 74th Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II pilot, with a Distinguished Flying Cross with valor during an award ceremony, May 23, 2018, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Cichowski and his wingman were outnumbered 3-to-1 Jan. 9, 2018, when providing close-air-support for ground forces.

Coordinating with a JTAC and synchronizing with a remotely piloted aircraft, Cichowski identified 25 enemy fighters 150 meters away from friendlies. He employed a 2,000 pound joint direct attack munition (JDAM) and proceeded to use the GAU-8 gun at the nose of the A-10C to wipe out the rest of the enemy while they countered with a barrage of anti-aircraft artillery.

“We ensured we were all looking at the right thing, and checked and double checked so we didn’t get anything wrong,” Cichowski added. “We all trusted each other. At no point I was afraid we were going to make a mistake and drop bombs on friendlies or civilians.”

Cichowski escaped unscathed, thwarting the largest coordinated attack of enemy fighters seen in that region without a single friendly loss. For this, Cichowski was awarded the DFC with valor, which is a distinction given to those who earn the DFC while engaged in direct combat with exposure to enemy hostilities and personal risk.

“DFC nominations are scrutinized very carefully, and every detail is validated to ensure facts are accurate,” Zobrist added.

By the time these Airmen returned to Moody Air Force Base (AFB), the SDF was able to take hold of most of their region and major cities were liberated.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-10C Thunderbolt II 23d W, 74th FS Flying Tigers, FT/80-144. Moody AFB, GA – 2011

Photo credit: Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

US Navy A-7 pilot recalls taking his Corsair II as high as possible during Post Maintenance Check Flights

The Corsair II The A-7 Corsair II was initially developed in response to a 1963… Read More

15 hours ago

USAF F-16 pilot tells why the F-15E Strike Eagle can’t hold a candle to an F-22 Raptor in an up close and personal engagement

F-15E Vs F-22 Developed to meet the US Air Force (USAF) requirement for air-to-ground missions, the… Read More

15 hours ago

Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Wing unveils first two operational USAF F-15EX Eagle II fighter jets

Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Wing first two F-15EX Eagle IIs On Jul. 12, 2024… Read More

2 days ago

F-104 Starfighter Pilot recalls when he and his Wingman scored five Simulated Kills against an F-15B Eagle in a Single Training Mission

The F-104 Starfighter Designed by Lockheed’s ace engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson to surpass the MiG-15… Read More

2 days ago

USAF A-10 pilot recalls his job as “Snacko” (Snack Officer) when he got to his first operational squadron

The Snacko In US Air Force (USAF) flying squadrons are busy places. According to BogiDope.com,… Read More

3 days ago

From damaged neck discs to being momentarily incapacitated during a dogfight: US Navy fighter pilot tells how high Gs over many years damaged his body

G-LOC G-induced Loss Of Consciousness (abbreviated as G-LOC) is a term generally used in aerospace physiology to… Read More

3 days ago