VMM-266 rescue on Libya during Odyssey Dawn
US Marine Corps, December 18, 2012 - MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. by 1st Lt. Roberto Martins - Three Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 will be awarded the Air Medal with the combat distinguishing device for valor, during a ceremony at the VMM-266 hangar at 4 p.m. Thursday, December 20, 2012.
Captains Erik Kolle and David Potter, along with Sergeant Daniel Howington will receive the award for meritorious achievement in aerial flight March 22, 2011, during the Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) mission while assigned to VMM-266 (REIN), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Expeditionary Strike Group Five in support of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn.
According to the award citation, upon notification of the tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission to rescue a downed U.S. pilot, the pilots and crew member of the MV-22B Osprey quickly prepared the aircraft and launched into an uncertain threat environment from the USS Kearsarge with a 30-man recovery force.
While flying at night, they safely negotiated the aircraft 150 miles to the contested area near the crash site of a U.S. Air Force F-15E in the vicinity of Benghazi, Libya.
Coordinating with numerous coalition airborne assets, the pilots ensured their aircraft navigated to the downed pilot who was actively evading pursuit.
After receiving a refined extract point, the pilots and crew landed, authenticated, and recovered the downed pilot safely to the USS Kearsarge.
Their actions led to the successful rescue of a downed pilot from contested territory in less than 90 minutes.
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VMM-266 Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 US Marine Corps