Lakenheath Maintainer Awarded Airman’s Medal for Heroism

Gen. Frank Gorenc, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, presented SSgt. Greggory Swarz the Airman’s Medal during a ceremony at Lakenheath AB, Britain, according to a base release. Gorenc recognized Swarz, a member of Lakenheath’s 492nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, for saving the lives of three French airmen after a Greek F-16 crashed at Los Llanos AB, Spain, on Jan. 26 during a NATO training exercise. A contingent of Lakenheath airmen and F-15s was deployed there for the event. “I’m extremely honored,” said Swarz during the March 13 award ceremony. Despite rampant fires at the crash scene, Swarz maneuvered between the flames to pull two of the French airmen to safety; two other airmen assisted him in bringing the third French airman out of danger. Swarz also used his belt as a tourniquet to stem the loss of blood from the right arm of one of the French airmen, who lost his right hand in the mishap. “It was a very scary situation,” explained Swarz. “The fires were huge. … I just tried to stay calm and be rational about everything,” he said. The Airman’s Medal honors an airman for heroism, usually at the voluntary risk of life.