Leadership: August 5, 2003


The U.S. Air Force only lost one aircraft during the Iraq campaign, an A-10 shot down by enemy ground fire. Several other A-10s received damage when they went down low to support the troops. Most of the Air Force aircraft flew above 10,000 feet, out of range of most ground fire. There was always the danger of some of the larger Iraqi surface-to-air missiles being used, but this did not happen. Pilots flew a lot of sorties in a relatively short time and did so very effectively. As a result, the air force is in the process of handing out thousands of awards in recognition of this achievement. Most of the awards are relatively low grade (the Air Medal, the Aerial Achievement and the Air Force Commendation Medal). A typical squadron in this respect is the 14th Squadron of the 35th Fighter Wing. Eleven of the squadron's 17 F-16 pilots received a total of 20 awards. The squadron flew 750 sorties, and kept their warplanes in the air for 3,700 hours during the campaign. One pilot flew fifty sorties. 


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