Oklahoma Air National Guard Member Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross

An Oklahoma Air National Guard Member received the Distinguished Flying Cross—the nation’s fourth-highest award for valor in combat—earlier this month for his actions during a Taliban attack in Afghanistan in 2018.

On April 30, 2018, Lt. Col. Michael Coloney was assigned to the 125th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron when more than 80 Taliban fighters attacked U.S. and Afghan Special Forces who were clearing a village in the Kapisa province.

The F-16 pilot was already airborne on another previously assigned mission when he immediately retasked to provide air support to the U.S. and Afghan troops as the Taliban launched rockets and grenades and shot small arms and high-powered machine guns at them.

He worked with combat controllers on the ground for approximately five hours, employing GPS-guided bombs and conducting high-angle strafe attacks on the Taliban fighters, sometimes less than 30 meters from friendly forces.

There were 11 casualties that day, including one American Soldier who was killed in action, but Coloney’s fire power enabled the friendly forces to escape 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,” according to an Air National Guard release.