Retired Apache Pilot’s DFC to be Upgraded to Silver Star

Retired Lt. Col. Alan Botine will receive a Silver Star for his actions flying in support of coalition forces in Iraq in 2003. Botine is one of eight airmen whose awards were upgraded in January after a DOD-wide review of medals given during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Botine was the lead pilot for a group of Apache helicopters when he learned that a UH-60 helicopter was shot down within hostile territory. He took command of the search and rescue operation, controlling more than 30 coalition aircraft over the course of the event. While working to evade anti-aircraft defenses, Botine performed “a high risk, extremely low altitude daylight pass to identify a column of vehicles nearing the crash site in order to prevent fratricide,” according to the award citation. He continued flying through the night in worsening weather that necessitated flying below five thousand feet in heavy fire to provide cover for the survivors of the crash. He continued flying at very low altitudes and illuminating all exterior lights, exposing himself repeatedly to enemy fire, to help locate and protect the survivors. By the end of his mission, Botine had been flying for 10.5 hours and required aerial refueling six times. His actions “ensured the fellow Americans were provided protection,” according to the citation.