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James H. Hanshaw


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 Chief Warrant Officer Two (CWO-2) James H. Hanshaw, United States Army, for valorous achievement on 13 February 2010 while serving as a Dustoff Pilot in Command during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM 09-10. Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw's exemplary performance of duty contributed immensely to the overall success of the unit's mission. His dedication to service reflects great credit upon himself, Task Force PEGASUS, and the United States Army. NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY AWARD: For his exceptionally valorous performance of duty while providing critical rotary wing MEDEVAC support to Bravo Company (BLACK IRON), 1st Battalion, 6th Marines under enemy fire and face of danger during the initial offensive of Operation MOSHTARAK on 13 February 2010 in central Marjeh, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw's achievements as Pilot in Command, Flight Lead and Air Mission Commander, were nothing short of remarkable and indicative of the highest professionalism of aviators in combat. During the NATO/ISAF offensive operation in support of 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), Dustoff 64's (DO64) crew received a 9-line MEDEVAC requesting support from the 1st and 3d Battalions, 6th Marine Commanders with critical combat casualties. While conducting three MEDEVAC missions during a twelve hour period HLZs with heavy enemy small arms and RPG fire, Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw's crew and aircraft were deliberately targeted during landings and departures for the purpose of shooting down a Coalition aircraft. While maneuvering the helicopter with combat flight techniques using the terrain to mask his helicopter from being targeted by Taliban and Anti-Afghan Forces, he used the canals, trees, riverbeds, and local populated areas to safely navigate to the evacuation HLZs. He was able to protect his crew and aircraft during the initial offensive with exceptional aviator skills and extraordinary decision making while facing heavy enemy fire. While maneuvering his helicopter in and around the HLZ placing the tail of the aircraft toward the enemy to provide cover and concealment to the dismounted crew and fellow Marines while the wounded were loaded, Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw's keen situational awareness while in flight allowed his crew to escape several extreme environmental conditions that could have lead to catastrophic damage or downed aircraft due to enemy fire. During mission MM(S) 02-14K, he and his crew quickly responded to a U.S. Marine suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Without hesitation, Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw prepared the aircraft and briefed the crewmembers on the situation with the recent intelligence reports from U.S. Marine RCT-7 and MAG-40 S2s from FOB DWYER that the area of the casualty was in was considered hostile and extremely dangerous territory. BLACK IRON was in direct contact with Taliban and Anti-Afghan Forces throughout the morning. Without regard for their personal safety, DO64 (US-60A Blackhawk) crew with its chase UH-60L (Blackhawk) (Black Magic 70) BM 70 departed FOB DWYER to provide life-saving care to a wounded Marine. Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw's crew requested a special VFR departure due to reduced visibility because of blowing dust causing degraded weather of less than a half mile surrounding the FOB. Because of the weather, Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw flew his aircraft to the best of his abilities and began contacting FACTION @! (F-18 Super Hornets) holding at 18,000 feet for on-call support in the event that the crew needed close air support near the HOZ. Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw established communications with FAC-21, while his Co-pilot continued to contact the BLACK IRON, call sign SIEGE 10. Even with unreliable UHF communications with SIEGE 10, BLACK IRON's Forward Air Controller, he continued to the HLZ by flying Nap of the Earth (NOE) below 50 feet above ground level overcoming the blowing dust and haze. Knowing the low-level flight would place him and his crew closer to the enemy, he began leading the flight by separation and varying his altitudes and maneuvering evasively to reduce exposure to enemy firers. With only three miles from the HLZ and still no contact with SIEGE 10, Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw began setting the aircraft up for landing and made a deliberate decision to land while his Co-pilot relayed to FAC 21 for the ground elements to identify the HLZ with purple smoke. The crew noticed the smoke and Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw began his approach from the North with an aggressive decelerating landing to minimize the helicopter exposure to the enemy. He urged his crew to load quickly to minimize time on the HLZ. Once the crew and casualty were on board, he departed to the west, no higher than 30 feet when he began taking effective small arms fire. He quickly turned to execute evasive maneuvers and increased his altitude from observation by continuously altering his direction of flight to avoid greater small arms fire. With a 7.62-mm round impacting his armored wing panel only inches from his head, Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw continued his flight path until exiting the high threat area. For Providing "world class" medical evacuation support during the initial phase of operation in Marjeh, Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw and his Dustoff flight crew displayed exceptional aviation skills, keen situational awareness and extraordinary decision making initiative. The rapid evacuation conducted by Chief Warrant Officer Two Hanshaw and his Dustoff crew helped preserve the Marine Battalions' combat power and allowed them to focus their forces on maintaining pressure and destroying Anti-Afghan and Taliban forces during the early phases of Operation MOSHTARAK.

Action Date: February 13, 2010

Service: Army

Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 2