Pave Low Pilot Wins Top Safety Award

Lt. Col. Eugene Becker, a MH-53M Pave Low helicopter pilot with the 20th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., has received the 2008 Koren Kolligian Jr. trophy, the service’s top safety award. Gen. Duncan McNabb, vice chief of staff, presented Becker with the trophy June 9 during a ceremony at the Pentagon. Becker won the award for his calm demeanor and quick thinking that saved the lives of his crew when his Pave Low experienced a catastrophic mechanical failure while hovering during a nighttime tactical training mission on Sept. 7, 2007. After overriding the aircraft’s flight control system, Becker successfully negotiated 90-foot trees and brought the aircraft down in a small landing zone, saving the lives of his seven crewmembers. The helicopter was heavily damaged in the crash. (Air Force report by TSgt. Nick Choy)