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James L. Cardoso

Place of Birth: New Jersey, Cherry Hill
Home of record: Cherry Hill New Jersey


Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the Operation Allied Force

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Captain James L. Cardoso, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States as Pilot of an MH-53 Pave Low Rescue Helicopter of the 16th Special Operations Wing, in action near Batajnica, Serbia, on 27 March 1999. On that date, Captain Cardoso, as MH-53M flight lead, commanded and flew the successful combat search and rescue of an American F-117A pilot shot down within 25 miles of Belgrade. He fearlessly led his formation at great personal risk to himself and his crews by penetrating an extremely formidable air defense system, which had full knowledge that the rescue attempt was being made, and avoided numerous Serbian ground troops actively trying to locate and destroy his three helicopters. With his terrain-following radar turned off to prevent enemy detection, Captain Cardoso flew at 100 feet above the ground avoiding wires and towers with merely one half-mile visibility. At one crucial point, it was only his quick reaction and precise aircraft control that prevented collision with a nearly invisible set of power lines, saving the flight and the mission. His skillful combat use of the new Interactive Defensive Avionics System was an Air Force first and allowed him to completely evade enemy forces, greatly enhancing their survivability throughout the 5.5 hour mission. Captain Cardoso's heroic actions saved an American pilot from enemy capture at a critically sensitive time early in the air campaign. This preserved public support for our national policy and bolstered the coalition by denying the enemy a key source of exploitation. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Captain Cardoso has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: 27-Mar-99

Service: Air Force

Rank: Captain

Regiment: 16th Special Operations Wing