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    Special Operations Aviation Veterans Receive Upgraded Awards

    Special Operations Aviation Veterans Receive Upgraded Awards

    FORT CAMPBELL, KY, UNITED STATES

    10.29.2021

    Photo by Maj. Chris Lancia 

    160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)

    FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – On October 29, 2021, U.S. Army Special Operations Command veterans received upgraded awards for actions performed during Operation Gothic Serpent, more commonly known as the Battle of Mogadishu, in 1993.

    This year marks the 28th anniversary of Operation Gothic Serpent, and the upgrades come as the result of a review ordered in 2020 by former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. Upgraded awards included the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    “These men and their families seated before us represent the very best our nation has to offer,” said Lt. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, United States Army Special Operations Command commanding general. “These men did not seek recognition, nor have they ever been partial to the limelight. Each ribbon and medal we pin today means so much more. They represent life-altering moments of courage and valor for these men and their families.”

    The Silver Star was presented to Maj. Paul Shannon, Sgt. First Class Charles Warren, Staff Sgt. Mason Hall, and Sgt. Kevin McKeehan. The Distinguished Flying Cross was presented to First Sgt. Kenneth Hickman and Sgt. First Class Scott Hargis.

    “The Silver Star is the nation’s third-highest award for gallantry, and part of the criteria meriting the Distinguished Flying Cross is an act of heroism or extraordinary achievement while operating in aerial flight…involving operations that are not routine,” said Brig. Gen. Philip J. Ryan, United States Army Special Operations Aviation Command commanding general. “Special Operations Aviation by definition involves operations that are not routine. These men honored here today distinguished themselves operating under unimaginable stress, doing so with a level of precision, dedication, and extraordinary heroism and gallantry for which these medals were originally conceived.”

    Posthumous awards were also presented to Sharri Briley, the widow of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Donovan Briley, and their daughter, Jordan Campbell.

    “Donovan is a hero to so many, and every Night Stalker who walks the halls of this hangar knows his face and says his name,” said Braga. “There are hundreds of valorous acts that occurred that day and beyond. That type of sacrifice, love of nation, and total commitment is an indelible attribute of this organization. These heroes are cut from a special cloth of patriots.”

    Silver Star award citations:

    MAJOR PAUL W. SHANNON, UNITED STATES ARMY RETIRED
    Staff Sergeant Shannon was serving as a Crew Chief and Door Gunner for Company D, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He distinguished himself by providing critical suppressive fire around a crash site, enabling the ground forces to move to, secure, and render assistance to the surviving members of two downed aircraft. He continued to suppress an overwhelming enemy force even after sustaining injuries from automatic weapons fire hitting his aircraft. Staff Sergeant Shannon’s actions reflect great credit upon him and the United States Army.

    SERGEANT FIRST CLASS CHARLES D. WARREN III, UNITED STATES ARMY RETIRED
    Staff Sergeant Warren was serving as a Crew Chief and Door Gunner for Company D, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He distinguished himself by providing critical door fires to engaged forces on the ground. This was accomplished in spite of intense enemy small arms fire. Engaged by a rocket propelled grenade, Staff Sergeant Warren provided critical crash instructions to the passengers in the back of the aircraft as his aircraft spun out of control and fell helplessly to the earth. His selfless actions saved all of the passengers in the back of the aircraft. Staff Sergeant Warren’s heroism and valor reflect great credit upon himself, the Special Operations Aviation, the Night Stalkers, and the United States Army.

    STAFF SERGEANT MASON F. HALL, UNITED STATES ARMY VETERAN
    Staff Sergeant Hall was serving as a Crew Chief and Door Gunner for Company D, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He distinguished himself by providing critical suppressive fires around a crash site, enabling the ground forces to move to, secure, and render assistance to the surviving members of two downed aircraft. He continued to suppress an overwhelming enemy force even after his aircraft sustained numerous hits from automatic weapons fire and a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade. Staff Sergeant Hall’s heroism and valor reflects great credit upon himself, Special Operations Aviation, the Night Stalkers, and the United States Army.

    SERGEANT KEVIN D. MCKEEHAN, UNITED STATES ARMY VETERAN
    Sergeant McKeehan was serving as a Task Force Ranger MH-60L Crew Chief for 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. After his aircraft was critically hit and returned to the airfield, Sergeant McKeehan, with no regard for his personal safety, immediately prepped another aircraft for launch. Sergeant McKeehan was back on the battlefield within 30 minutes, immediately conducting a medical evacuation. His actions saved fellow Soldiers’ lives. Sergeant McKeehan’s heroic performance of duty reflects great credit upon himself, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the United States Army.

    Distinguished Flying Cross award citations:

    FIRST SERGEANT KENNETH B. HICKMAN, UNITED STATES ARMY RETIRED
    Staff Sergeant Hickman was serving as a Joint Special Operations Task Force Ranger Crew Chief for Company D, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He fast roped a Search and Rescue Security Team to the site of a downed aircraft; his aircraft received a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade. His composure and professionalism enabled the team to complete its infiltration and return to the airfield even though his aircraft was severely crippled. Within minutes, he prepared another aircraft for launch and immediately conducted a medical evacuation. Staff Sergeant Hickman’s performance reflects great credit on him and the United States Army.

    SERGEANT FIRST CLASS SCOTT A. HARGIS, UNITED STATES ARMY RETIRED
    Staff Sergeant Hargis was serving as a Joint Special Operations Task Force Ranger Crew Chief for Company D, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. His actions were instrumental towards the accomplishment of the mission. During a combat resupply mission, with no regard for his own personal safety, he protected his aircraft with his door gun fires, thus penetrating a wall of enemy fire to ensure that the forces engaged on the ground would receive their much-needed supplies. This action enabled the Task Force Ranger Soldiers to leave the battlefield alive. Staff Sergeant Hargis’s performance reflects great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

    Chief Warrant Officer Three Donovan L. Briley award citations:

    Silver Star: Chief Warrant Officer Three Briley’s actions led to the successful accomplishment of the mission. Maintaining his aerial position in extremely close proximity to a highly contested urban objective, Chief Warrant Officer Three Briley ensured the safety of the Soldiers on the objective. His aircraft was decisively engaged by rocket propelled grenade fire. His performance preserved the lives of all of his passengers. Chief Warrant Officer Three Briley’s heroism reflects great credit upon himself, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the United States Army.

    Air Medal with “V” Device: For heroism on 18 September 1993, while assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation as a Fully Mission Qualified Pilot of MH-60 Black Hawk Assault Helicopter during combat operations in Mogadishu, Somalia. Chief Warrant Officer Three Briley’s actions were outstanding during a strong point assault to capture a senior official of the Somalia National Alliance. The assault was a complete success, capturing several of Somalia National Alliance Militiamen and suffering no casualties. Chief Warrant Officer Three Briley’s heroism reflects great credit upon him, the Night Stalkers, and the United States Army.

    Air Medal: For exemplary performance while assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation during combat operations in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 17 September 1993. While serving as a member of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Ranger as a Pilot of the flight lead aircraft and mission planner, his actions were instrumental towards the successful accomplishment of the mission. Chief Warrant Officer Three Briley withstood intense enemy fire in order to protect an assault force on its objective, Radio Mogadishu. Chief Warrant Officer Three Briley’s heroism reflects great credit upon him, the 160th Special Operations Aviation, and the United States Army.

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    IMAGE INFO

    Date Taken: 10.29.2021
    Date Posted: 11.09.2021 15:40
    Photo ID: 6931270
    VIRIN: 211029-A-JA012-100
    Resolution: 825x1275
    Size: 106.26 KB
    Location: FORT CAMPBELL, KY, US 

    Web Views: 1,148
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