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Chopper pilot honored

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Maj. Thomas Keegan, a California National Guardsman assigned to the 129th Rescue Wing, was presented the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross at a ceremony at Moffett Federal Airfield on Nov. 5. Keegan, a Folsom resident and HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter pilot, distinguished himself while a participating in an aerial mission near Bastion Forward Operating Base on June 29, 2009. On that date, Keegan led a two-ship formation, under the call sign Pedro 35, on an urgent medical evacuation into the volatile Helmand province. He displayed valor in the face of danger when he flew his aircraft through multiple lines of fire, placing Pedro 35 directly between the origin of fire and the defenseless patient on the ground. His courageous decision-making and piloting expertise allowed his flight to successfully extract the wounded soldier. “The Distinguished Flying Cross is one of the highest decorations reserved for those who demonstrate extraordinary courage and airmanship under fire,” said Col. Steven Butow, 129th Rescue Wing commander. “These 10 individuals heroically saved the lives of Americans and allies under the most challenging of combat conditions.” The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to servicemembers who distinguish themselves in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. The 129th RQW has 10 outstanding airmen receiving this prestigious medal. They will be presented by Brigadier General Matthew P. Beevers, assistant adjutant general of the California Military Department. The primary mission of the 129th RQW is to train and be prepared to perform its wartime mission of combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. In addition to its wartime mission, the unit also works closely with the Coast Guard and various civil agencies on state missions. The unit has saved 947 people. For more information, go to www.129rqw.ang.af.mil. ~ Staff report