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Aaron M. Palan


Distinguished Flying Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Captain Aaron M. Palan, United States Air Force, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as A-10C Pilot, 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 451st Expeditionary Operations Group, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, on 1 October 2010. On that date, Captain Palan's superior leadership, exemplary airmanship, and skilled weapons employment saved a Special Forces team from certain defeat in the face of a heavily armed and determined foe that initially owned the element of surprise and superior fighting positions. Flying as a wingman in an A-10C flight, Captain Palan's flight responded to a situation where a Special Forces team had been ambushed by Taliban forces occupying entrenched, camouflages fighting positions in rugged terrain. On only his fourth sortie after initial mission qualification, Captain Palan employed four precision-guided munitions, 1,150 rounds of 30 millimeter and three white phosphorous rockets in defense of friendly ground forces, with 50 percent of the employment coming as a single-ship. While his flight lead was air refueling, Captain Palan prevented an ambush of an inbound medical evacuation helicopter, and led coordinated attacks with a team of AH-64s. On two separate occasions, his flight lead and the HA-64s lost target identification, but Captain Palan remained locked onto the targets, attacking the enemy positions. Ultimately, Captain Palan's precise fires, exemplary situational awareness and leadership stopped enemy assaults on five different occasions. His actions ensured successful medical evacuation of the friendly casualties, and contributed to an estimated 20 to 30 enemy killed in action. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Palan reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Action Date: October 1, 2010

Service: Air Force

Rank: Captain

Company: 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron

Regiment: 451st Expeditionary Operations Group, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing