U.S. President Donald J. Trump honored seven members of California’s National Guard with the Distinguished Flying Cross, a military decoration recognizing distinguished acts of heroism and extraordinary achievement.
“Just over one week ago, these brave pilots and crew members of the California Army National Guard embarked on a harrowing mission,” said the President on Monday afternoon in McClellan Park, California.
During the night of September 5 and into the morning of September 6, the National Guardsmen flew two helicopters to the Mammoth Pool campground. Families had become stranded and surrounded by fire.
Despite very limited visibility and amid the heavy smoke, these men completed their mission over the course of 10 harrowing hours. Although they faced grave danger returning to the area, they returned three times to the campground and saved the lives of 242 people.
The recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross are Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Rosamond, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kipp Goding, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brady Hlebain, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Irvin Hernandez, Warrant Officer 1 Ge Xiong, Sergeant George Esquivel Jr., and Sergeant Cameron Powell of the California Army National Guard.
“Our Nation is strong because of remarkable individuals like these service members. In the midst of our greatest trials and biggest challenges, America prevails because of the brave and selfless patriots who risk everything,” said Trump.
Over the course of 10 hours, in poor visibility, the California National Guardsmen made multiple perilous flights to rescue stranded and injured campers—saving 242 people. pic.twitter.com/qSu4SilGzV
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 14, 2020
President Trump traveled to California to meet with state officials and receive a briefing on the devastating wildfires burning throughout the state. .
The President approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the state in August. The Trump Administration continues to provide support for state and local officials via numerous Fire Management Assistance Grants and other forms of aid.
“We want to thank these incredible people—the first responders, service members—who save lives while racing into “extreme peril,” said President Trump.