2006 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Carmichael, Mettetal, King, Kirby, Hyde-Smith, Michel, Davis, Chaney, White, Burton, Wilemon, Pickering, Moffatt, Browning, Thames, Albritton, Brown, Butler, Clarke, Dearing, Doxey, Frazier, Gollott, Gordon, Harden, Harvey, Jackson (11th), Jackson (15th), Jackson (32nd), Jordan, Lee (35th), Little, Morgan, Nunnelee, Robertson, Ross, Thomas, Walls
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE GALLANT SERVICE OF CAPTAIN BRYAN CREEL FROM THE CLARKDALE COMMUNITY AND THE PAVE HAWK HELICOPTER CREWMEN WHO SURVIVED THE ELEMENTS AND ENEMY FIRE TO SAVE FIVE FELLOW SOLDIERS WHOSE CHINOOK HELICOPTER HAD CRASHED IN THE IRAQI DESERT ON APRIL 16, 2004.
WHEREAS, as the two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters landed in darkness on a flight line at Balad Air Base in central Iraq, the 13 exhausted crew members realized they had accomplished something extraordinary. The airmen has just rescued five soldiers from the wreckage of a crashed CH-47 Chinook helicopter in an Iraqi desert; and
WHEREAS, that April 16, 2004, mission is gaining a prominent place in Air Force history. On December 5, 2005, the 13 airmen were honored with the Mackay Trophy, a prestigious National Aeronautic Association Award given annually to the crew of the Air Force's most meritorious flight; and
WHEREAS, just getting to the crash site meant flying through the night in near-brownout conditions for dozens of miles, combing the desert in search of survivors who didn't have a working radio. On their way back, they dodged two coordinated anti-aircraft missile attacks. The three-hour mission left the crew drained; and
WHEREAS, "I could barely pull myself out of my seat," Mission Commander Captain Bryan Creel of Clarkdale, Mississippi (near Meridian), said, describing how he felt after returning to Balad; and
WHEREAS, the following men of Jolly 11 and Jolly 12, two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue crews, were home-based with the 347 Rescue Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia: Jolly 11: Captain Bryan Creel, Mission Commander; Major Joseph Galletti, Co-Pilot; Technical Sergeant Thomas Ringheimer, Gunner; Staff Sergeant Patrick Ledbetter, Flight Engineer; and Staff Sergeant Vincent J. Eckert, Pararescueman Jolly 12: Captain Robby Wrinkle, Aircraft Commander; Captain Gregory Rockwood, Co-Pilot; Technical Sergeant Michael Preston, Flight Engineer; Master Sergeant Paul Silver, Gunner; Staff Sergeant Edward Ha, Pararescueman; Staff Sergeant Matthew Leigh, Pararescueman; and Staff Sergeant Michael Rubio, Pararescueman; and
WHEREAS, usual rescue procedures call for one Pave Hawk to circle overhead, while the other is on the ground, but with visibility so bad, both HH-60Gs landed. The pararescuemen hopped out and moved toward the survivors. None had life-threatening injuries. Jolly 11 took on three of the army aviators while two were packed onto Jolly 12. After five minutes on the ground, Jolly 11 lifted up. Jolly 12 waited two minutes to put a safe distance between the two Pave Hawks. Again, the Pave Hawks found themselves flying through a sandstorm, but this time they flew aboveground obstacles by staying at 500 feet and higher. Then they spotted the smoke trail of a missile. Four minutes after the first attack and less than 20 miles from Balad ground fire erupted again. Missile launch warnings sounded in both helicopters and Jolly 11's crew saw two missiles pass to their left. This time, Jolly 12 fired its right-side 50-caliber to distract the enemy. Again, the enemy fire stopped and the helicopters continued to Balad; and
WHEREAS, this was the most harrowing mission of Captain Creel's 20-year flying career. "This is one of the most heroic missions our guys have flown in the war on terrorism," their deployed Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Lee dePalo, said of the mission; and
WHEREAS, Captain Creel and Captain Wrinkle were honored with Distinguished Flying Crosses, as were Co-Pilots Galletti and Captain Gregory Rockwood. The other crew members received Air Medals; and
WHEREAS, word of the Mackay Trophy honor reached the crew this past spring, almost a year after the mission; many of the airman had left for new assignments. Past winners of the Mackay Trophy include: Chuck Yeager, Eddie Rickenbacker and James (Jimmie) Doolittle; and
WHEREAS, it is with great pride and humility that we recognize the heroic action of these great Americans and this Mississippian, who are the guardians of civilization as we know it today:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the gallant service of Captain Bryan Creel from the Clarkdale, Mississippi, community (near Meridian), and the Pave Hawk Helicopter crewmen who survived the elements and enemy fire to save five fellow soldiers whose CH-47 Chinook Helicopter had crashed in the Iraqi desert on April 16, 2004.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we congratulate Captain Creel and these crewmen for their receipt of the prestigious Mackay Trophy for the Air Force's most meritorious flight, and extend the thoughts and best wishes of the Legislature to these airmen and their families.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to Captain Creel and his family and be made available to members of the Capitol Press Corps.