|Air Force Cross|
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Airman Second Class Duane D. Hackney (AFSN: 16827003), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving with the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, 3d Air Rescue and Recovery Group, DaNang Air Base, Vietnam, as a Paramedic (Pararescueman) on an unarmed HH-3E Rescue Helicopter near Mu Gia Pass, North Vietnam, on 6 February 1967. On that date, Airman Hackney flew two sorties in a heavily defended hostile area. On the first sortie, despite the presence of armed forces known to be hostile, entrenched in the vicinity, Airman Hackney volunteered to be lowered into the jungle to search for the survivor. He searched until the controlling Search and Rescue agency ordered an evacuation of the rescue crew. On the second sortie, Airman Hackney located the downed pilot, who was hoisted into the helicopter. As the rescue crew departed the area, intense and accurate 37-mm. flak tore into the helicopter amidships, causing extensive damage and a raging fire aboard the craft. With complete disregard for his own safety, Airman Hackney fitted his parachute to the rescued man. In this moment of impending disaster, Airman Hackney chose to place his responsibility to the survivor above his own life. The courageous Pararescueman located another parachute for himself and had just slipped his arms through the harness when a second 37-mm. round struck the crippled aircraft, sending it out of control. The force of the explosion blew Airman Hackney through the open cargo door and, though stunned, he managed to deploy the unbuckled parachute and make a successful landing. He was later recovered by a companion helicopter. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Airman Hackney reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.In these modern times people will use the word "hero" to describe a sports star, maybe even a Hollywood actor. Not me.
I don't have a problem if people refer to someone they respect as a hero. Perhaps their Mom or their Dad. Perhaps a police officer, or a fireman. Emergency medical folks could also be considered heroes.
My heroes have always been those who swore the oath to "support and defend the Constitution," the same oath I swore so many years ago. But I'm no hero.
Heroes run towards danger. They run into burning buildings. They march to the sound of the guns. They lay their lives on the line so that others may live.
Of the many fighting men and women I know or have known, very few impress me as much as Air Force Pararescuemen, PJs as we always referred to them. The Nuke had a PJ as an instructor at Air Force Junior ROTC summer camp in Germany. (Yes, in high school The Nuke and The WSO both wore Air Force blue!)
That PJ impressed the heck out of The Nuke, and she is not easy to impress.
Of all the men at the top of the blog, in my Pantheon of Heroes, there is only one enlisted man.
Chief Master Sergeant Duane Hackney.
Chief was a PJ, one of the best of the best. Makes me damn proud to have worn the same uniform. He was the most decorated enlisted man in the Air Force. We're not talking "battle of Lackland" or Good Conduct medals.
No, we're talking the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross (4 awards) w/ Combat "V", the Airman's Medal, the Purple Heart (2 awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), the Air Medal (18 awards), the Air Force Commendation Medal (3 awards) w/ Combat "V" and many more.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you CMSgt Duane Hackney.
A man worthy of emulation. A man worthy of remembrance in my Pantheon of Heroes.
|HH-3 Jolly Green Giant|
All images contained herein are in the Public Domain.