Distinguished Flying Cross Recognizes Heroism and Extraordinary Achievement

July 1, 2016
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Photo By: NHHC
VIRIN: 160702-N-ZW259-4896

On July 2, 1926, the Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Congress. In the past eight years only five DFCs have been awarded four of them were to astronauts (and one of those astronauts, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, received it twice). Sadly, one of those Distinguished Flying Crosses was presented posthumously to the family of Lt. Miroslav Steven Zilberman, of Columbus, Ohio, who was killed March 31, 2010 after staying at the controls of his crippled E-2C Hawkeye allowing his crew to escape unharmed before the plane crashed. The first was awarded to an Army Reserve Captain named Charles A. Lindberg recognizing his historic transatlantic flight. It is the oldest military aviation award.

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society says it's impossible to know how many of the medals have been awarded, but it claims to have more than "6,200 recipient members with possibly thousands more eligible to join our prestigious and elite Society." The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the Navy or the Marine Corps, distinguish themselves by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. To justify this decoration for heroism, an act in the face of danger, well above those actions performed by others engaged in similar flight operations, is required; for achievement, the results accomplished must be so exceptional as to render them conspicuous among those accomplished by others involved in similar circumstances. The citations of those five most recent Distinguished Flying Crosses are shared below.  
 

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Photo By: NHHC
VIRIN: 210624-N-ZY259-8029

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS (Gold Star in lieu of the Second Award) to CAPTAIN MARK E. KELLY, UNITED STATES NAVY, for service as set forth in the following CITATION: For extraordinary achievement as an Astronaut while assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas from 16 May 2011 to 1 June 2011. During this period, Captain Kelly flew his fourth mission in space as the commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on Mission STS-134 that launched and landed at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 16 May 2011 and 1 June 2011 respectively. The primary mission objective was to transport and install the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 and Express Logistics Carrier-3 to the International Space Station. During the eleven days docked with the International Space Station, Captain Kelly supervised four spacewalks which were composed of several high pressure tasks including refilling the port radiator with ammonia and transporting and installing several robotic arm grapple fixtures. STS-134's spectacular achievements are indisputably a direct result of his adept leadership. Captain Kelly's superb airmanship, unmatched professionalism, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

For the President,
Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy


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VIRIN: 210624-N-ZY259-8385

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS to CAPTAIN KENNETH T. HAM UNITED STATES NAVY, for service as set forth in the following CITATION: For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a stellar astronaut while assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, from 14 May 2010 to 26 May 2010. During this period, Captain Ham flew his second mission in space as the Commander of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on Mission STS-132 that launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 14 May 2010, and landed at Kennedy Space Center on 26 May 2010. The primary mission objective was to deliver and attach the Russian-built Mini-Research Module 1, "Rassvet," to the Zarya nadir port, the first time in history that a U.S. Space Shuttle delivered a Russian module to the International Space Station. In addition, the crew installed a new space-to- ground antenna and boom on the Z1 truss and replaced six batteries on the P6 truss. Captain Ham's exceptional management of the Space Shuttle crew during the docked phase resulted in all tasks of a very aggressive assembly schedule being 100 percent completed. STS-132's spectacular achievements are indisputably a direct result of his adept leadership. By his keen situational awareness, superb airmanship, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Captain Ham reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

For the President,
Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy


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Photo By: NHHC
VIRIN: 210624-N-ZY259-8003

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS to CAPTAIN ALAN G. POINDEXTER UNITED STATES NAVY, for service as set forth in the following CITATION: For extraordinary achievement as an astronaut while assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, from 5 to 20 April 2010, Captain Poindexter performed commendably as the Commander of the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-131 which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The primary mission was to deliver nearly six tons of high-priority supplies and spares to the International Space Station and to replace one of two ammonia tanks critical to the Station's external thermal conditioning system. This mission was an unqualified success attributable to the impressive leadership and thorough preparation of Captain Poindexter. His superior technical knowledge of the Space Shuttle vehicle and outstanding airmanship complemented his exceptional management skills and were directly responsible for the completion of this highly aggressive logistics and maintenance mission. Undeterred by an inoperable Ku-band communications and radar antenna and the numerous changes to the mission?s timeline that resulted, Captain Poindexter's astute leadership skills guided the crew of seven through mission completion and a safe landing at Kennedy Space Center. By his professional competence, keen judgment, and loyal devotion to duty, Captain Poindexter reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

For the President,
Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy


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VIRIN: 210624-N-ZY259-8686

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS posthumously to LIEUTENANT MIROSLAV S. ZILBERMAN UNITED STATES NAVY, for service as set forth in the following CITATION: for extraordinary heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot of an E-2C aircraft assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE TWO ONE onboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) while deployed with Commander, United States FIFTH Fleet in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on 31 March 2010. Returning from a combat mission over Afghanistan, Bluetail 601 and her crew were making preparations for a carrier landing when the starboard engine started to lose oil pressure. While the aircraft was enroute to the ship, for an immediate landing, the engine degraded to a point at which it had to be shut down. After executing Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization shut down procedures, the starboard propeller failed to feather, causing unequal thrust on each wing of the aircraft. As a result, the aircraft was at its limits of controllability and began a descent that could not be arrested. Realizing all available options to land the aircraft safely were exhausted, Lieutenant Zilberman directed his crewmembers to bail out. With the auto pilot incapable of holding the aircraft in an acceptable attitude, he manually held the aircraft stable while his crew safely exited the aircraft, leaving him little chance to escape. All three aviators successfully bailed out of the aircraft with no injuries. As the last crewman onboard the barely controllable aircraft, Lieutenant Zilberman was unable to exit the aircraft, sacrificing his life to save his crew. Without his courageous actions, the entire crew would have perished. By his superb airmanship, inspiring courage, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Lieutenant Zilberman reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

For the President,
G. Roughead
Admiral, United States Navy
Chief of Naval Operations


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Photo By: NHHC
VIRIN: 210624-N-ZY259-8043

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS to CAPTAIN MARK E. KELLY UNITED STATES NAVY, for service as set forth in the following CITATION: For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an astronaut while assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas from 31 May to 14 June 2008. Captain Kelly performed commendably as the Commander of the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-l24 which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The primary mission was to deliver and install the Japanese Space Agency's $1 billion Kibo Laboratory Module to the International Space Station. The mission's unqualified success was attributable to Captain Kelly's outstanding leadership and thorough preparation. Captain Kelly's superior technical knowledge of the Space Shuttle vehicle and outstanding airmanship complemented his exceptional management skills and were directly responsible for the completion of this highly aggressive assembly mission. Undeterred by distractions to the mission, Captain Kelly guided the crew of seven through mission completion and safe landing at the Kennedy Space Center. By his exemplary leadership, outstanding professional competence, and loyal dedication to duty, Captain Kelly reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

For the President,
Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy