Kentucky Air National Guard Hercules


By Dario Leone
May 21 2017
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Maj. John Hourigan identified that one of the four propellers of his C-130 Hercules had become a speed brake while the aircraft was low to the ground at a high-bank angle

On May 17, 2017, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson presented the 2016 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy to Maj. John Hourigan, a 123rd Operations Support Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot, at the Pentagon.

On Jul. 15, 2016, during a training sortie, Hurigan not only saved the lives of five crewmembers, but also identified a worldwide C-130 propeller issue.

As told by Staff Sgt. Jannelle McRae, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, in the article C-130 pilot receives 60th Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy, Hourigan’s Hercules began vibrating so badly that crewmembers were unable to communicate with each other through their headsets, read gauges or flight instruments. Hourigan quickly determined the source of vibration, implemented corrective action and executed an engine-out landing.

“The fact that the crew is here today is remarkable,” said Wilson. “It took extraordinary skill, experience and dedication. This is a fantastic award for a remarkable aviator who well deserves this award.”

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson presents the Koren Kolligian Trophy to Maj. John Hourigan, a 123rd Operations Support Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot, during a ceremony in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., May 17, 2017.

Hourigan, who’s assigned to the 123rd Operations Support Squadron, Kentucky Air National Guard, identified that one of the four propellers had become a speed brake while the aircraft was low to the ground at a high-bank angle.

“This was absolutely the first time I’ve ever been scared in the airplane,” the guardsman continued.

During the ceremony, Hourigan took a moment to recognize his team and stated it takes a whole crew to bring a C-130 home safely.

“I have been fortunate to be a part of the Kentucky National Guard,” he said.

The annual trophy was established in 1958 to memorialize 1st Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr., a USAF pilot declared missing in the line of duty when his T-33 Shooting Star disappeared off the California coast on Sep. 14, 1955. The award recognizes aircrew members who, through extraordinary skill, exceptional alertness, ingenuity, or proficiency, averted accidents or minimized the seriousness of accidents in terms of injury, loss of life, aircraft damage or property damage.

Since the award’s inception, the Kolligian family attends and sponsors the award presentation ceremony.

Koren Kolligian II admires the precision, pride and professionalism of Airmen.

“What may have been another day in your life, we view as an act of heroism resulting from the Air Force’s commitment, education and training and from your skill, composure and resiliency as a pilot,” he said. “This award celebrates each of those values and qualities and it reminds us all what it takes to be a pilot in the United States Air Force.”

Photo credit: Lt. Col. Dale Greer / U.S. Air National Guard and Andy Morataya / U.S. Air Force

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Dario Leone

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.

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