October 30, 2007 (by TSgt. Michael O'Connor) - A pilot from the 510th Fighter Squadron was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross here Oct. 29 for his aerial combat support of friendly forces in the vicinity of An Najaf, Iraq, while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Capt. George Collings is presented the DFC on the flightline by his father and fellow F-16 pilot Major Gen. Michael Collings, the Senior U.S. Defense Representative to Egypt. General Collings flew into Aviano AB to present Capt. Collings with the medal for distinguishing himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-16C pilot with the 510th EFS based out of Balad AB. [USAF photo by SrA. Patrick Dixon]
After returning from a local training mission over the Dolomite Mountains, Capt. George Collings was presented the DFC
on the flightline by his father and fellow F-16 pilot Major Gen. Michael Collings, the Senior U.S. Defense Representative to Egypt
. General Collings flew into Aviano Air Base to present his son with the medal for distinguishing himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-16CG
pilot with the 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron based out of Balad Air Base, Iraq.
On Jan. 28, 2007, Capt. Collings was scrambled on an alert tasking as the flight lead for a close air support mission of friendly forces: The friendly forces had been en route to a downed AH-64 Apache helicopter when they began receiving small arms fire by anti-Iraqi forces wounding several Soldiers and pinning the forces down.
As the battle raged, Captain Collings located the friendly position approximately 100 meters from the enemy and after receiving clearance, dropped his ordnance and maneuvered his F-16 to an attack axis that reduced the chance of fratricide--friendly fire that injures or kills an ally--while simultaneously delivering a 500-pound laser-guided bomb inside a canal killing six anti-Iraqi forces and incapacitated 30 others. Seconds after impact, the coalition ground forces seized the advantage by storming the position and killing the remaining enemy, secured the crash site, and recovered the bodies of the American fallen warriors.
"I'm a proud father," said General Collings. "As a father, it was really an incredible experience to be here. In fact, I was so choked up--I had to fight back the tears as the goose bumps ran up and down my arms throughout the ceremony. As a fellow aviator, I particularly understand the significance of what George did to be honored and I couldn't be prouder.
"Stability in the Middle East is real important and I think collectively, in what the 510th and the Air Force as a whole is doing in Iraq is contributing greatly to the Global War on Terror."
"It's really an amazing feeling to know that all the training we go through as pilots, that what the 'Buzzards' did down range and continue to do, is making a difference," said Captain Collings. "I didn't do anything any other pilot wouldn't have done in the exact same situation. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to help the guys out on the ground doing all the 'real work' by allowing them to take the enemy position and recover the downed Apache [helicopter and aircrew]."