Estonian pilots receive highest Maryland NG award
US Army, August 15, 2014 - ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD by Staff Sgt. Michael Davis - Capt. Rene Kallis and Capt. Martin Noorsalu, both members of the Estonian Air Force and previous Estonian exchange officers in the Maryland National Guard’s 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, were presented with the Maryland National Guard Distinguished Service Cross (MDDSC) and conducted their last flight with the MDNG at Weide Army Air Field in the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., on Aug. 12, 2014.
The MDDSC is the highest MDNG’s state award and was presented to Kallis and Noorsalu for their loyal and distinguished service with the 29th CAB. They have been assigned to the 29th CAB for the past three years and will return back to Estonia next month.
Over the course of the three years servicing with the MDNG and the 29th CAB, Kallis and Noorsalu accomplished many notable achievements.
Kallis and Noorsalu quickly mastered knowledge and skill to serve as UH-60 helicopter pilots in preparation for deployment with C Company, 169th Air Ambulance Company to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). They participated in every major 29th CAB training event serving as UH-60 pilots flying support missions.
They also became the first two Estonian Air Force pilots to deploy as aviators with a U.S. Army unit to a combat theater. They deployed with C Company, 1st Battalion, 169th General Support Aviation Battalion on its historic deployment to OEF, Helmand Province, Afghanistan where they flew over 28 combat hours. They personally flew or were part of the aircrew on more than 20 medical evacuation missions saving U.S., Afghan, and coalition forces in a hostile combat environment.
Kallis and Noorsalu flew over 230 UH-60 hours including 35 in combat, with the Maryland Army National Guard. They interacted daily with members of the 29th CAB and overwhelmingly broadened each and every Soldier's appreciation of Estonia and our ability to work with other NATO partners.
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29th CAB 29th Combat Aviation Brigade US Army Aviation