Two Lakenheath Airmen Awarded DFC

Capt. John Frederick and TSgt. Patrick Ledbetter, both assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England, received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroic actions in Afghanistan. On May 4, 2010, Frederick, an HH-60 Pave Hawk pilot, successfully evacuated wounded soldiers from an ambush site in the Tagab Valley even though enemy fire prevented ground troops from marking the landing site and thunderstorms severely reduced visibility. After extracting the first wounded soldier, Frederick used his helicopter to protect his trail aircraft as it evacuated another wounded soldier. On Dec. 28, 2009, Ledbetter, a Pave Hawk flight engineer, was on a night mission to extract a casualty near Nad e Ali; however, incoming fire forced the crew to abort the first attempt. On the second attempt, Ledbetter recognized that the landing zone was mismarked and called for an immediate go around, but his aircraft lost sight of its wingman during reapproach. Ledbetter re-acquired the second aircraft, preventing a mid-air collision. The third attempt was successful. The award ceremony took place on June 23. (Lakenheath report by SrA. David Dobrydney)