Airman Honored for Rescue

The Air Force has awarded Special Agent Jim Collins of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations the Airman’s Medal for heroism and voluntary risk of life in the rescue of 10 Marines and civilian contractors after the crash of a CH-46 helicopter on Dec. 3, 2006, in Lake Quadisiya, Iraq. He witnessed the helicopter go down with 16 passengers, including several airmen, and crew right after takeoff from the helipad of the Haditha Dam at the lake. Collins, a strong swimmer and scuba dive instructor, dove in the water and battled 50-degree temperatures in the cholera-infested waters to retrieve four victims and bring them to shore. Working with other rescuers at the scene, he was able to save 10 of the 16 crash victims. Collins received the Airman’s Medal on Jan. 15, becoming one of only three AFOSI agents to be so honored to date. He also won a Bronze Star and Air Force Combat Action Medal for his tour of duty in Iraq. (MSgt. Noel Murphy also received the Airman’s Medal for his part in this rescue.) (AFOSI report by TSgt. John Jung)