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Bet you won't see this in the main stream media. This is a local boy who was a classmate of my oldest son.
AF honors Kingwood graduate for saving soldiers in Afghanistan
A daring nighttime mission that saved a group of German soldiers from insurgent attack in the mountains of Afghanistan has won a Kingwood Air Force pilot the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor — an honor for heroism or extraordinary achievement in flight.
Capt. Brian Erickson, 29, who graduated from Kingwood High School in 1997 and later obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Christian University, was honored for the close air support he provided in a Hindu-Kush mountain range valley on Oct. 16, 2006.
The military gave this account of Erickson's actions:
Assisted by a wingman who flew above the weather to provide the A-10 pilot with information regarding the location of insurgent gunmen, Erickson flew into the valley in darkness. The only light came from the enemy's weapons.
The six Germans, members of a reconstruction team, were pinned down by mortar, machine gun and small arms fire.
Initially, Erickson attempted to locate the source of the enemy fire through his infrared sensor, the pilot told his superiors. But each time a rocket-propelled grenade was fired, the sensor screen would glow so intensely that he momentarily would be blinded.
After turning the device off, he made several low-level runs, using flares to light the landscape. On locating the insurgents' position, he fired 240 rounds of 30mm ammunition, halting the enemy fire. Soldiers from the Afghan National Army and the International Security Assistance Quick Reaction Force then escorted the Germans to safety.
"During the day, or at night at low altitude, it's usually not like in the movies," Erickson said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his station at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. "I'm pretty much focused on executing the mission. That's where the excitement is."
Erickson, who is assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron, was deployed to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan at the time of the medal-winning mission. He has served two tours of duty in that nation and will return for a third in August.
Erickson said he has been fascinated by flying since childhood.
"He's always wanted to fly," the fighter pilot's father, Gary Erickson, affirmed. "He started out with computer games. I had several friends in the Kingwood area who were commercial pilots. They would take him up with them. Brian has always had this natural knack for flying. It truly was his dream."
Gary Erickson, a salesman of gas products, said his son, who participated in his college's Air Force ROTC program, likely will pursue an Air Force career. For erstwhile fighter pilots, commercial airline positions are far too tame, he said.
The younger Erickson demurred.
"It's way too early to be talking about career aspirations," he said.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
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