The Air Force has awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross to Capt. David Anderson, a pilot with the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan AB, South Korea, for his actions while flying close air support for ground forces in Iraq. SSgt. Alice Moore reports that on Nov. 16, 2006, Anderson was on a routine sortie when he and his flight lead were redirected to support coalition troops that had been fighting enemy forces east of Baghdad for some 40 hours. The Air Force joint terminal attack controller attached to the Army unit asked them to search for a vehicle, but then directed the F-16s to aid the JTAC and the soldiers that had become pinned down. The lead F-16 had to pull out to air refuel, but Anderson, who was on his first deployment, came in for a fourth pass—flying low at 300 feet—and was able to distinguish between enemy and friendlies, but they were too close together for him to use a bomb. He got special clearance to engage his 20 mm cannon and made three strafing runs and as he related, “I fired all 510 rounds in my gun, silencing the enemy position.” He killed six of the insurgents, one of whom had just set up a 60 mm mortar.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.