The crews of two California Army National Guard helicopters received the Distinguished Flying Medal, the nation’s highest honor for his dangerous rescue of hundreds of Mammoth Pool campers trapped in the Creek fire.
President Donald Trump presented each of the seven crew members with the Distinguished Flying Cross, which recognizes extraordinary heroism in flight.
“In mid-flight, crews received word from state and local officials to return to base, because it was too dangerous to continue the mission,” Trump said inside a hangar at Sacramento’s McClellan Airport, during a brief ceremony they attended. the crew members and their families and Governor Gavin Newsom.
“They decided to continue anyway, knowing that they might not return,” the president said. “They knew that people were in danger.”
In an interview with journalists days after the flight, the pilots described the mission as the most dangerous flight of their lives.
On Labor Day weekend, several hundred people were found trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Fresno and Madera counties as flames from the massive Creek fire surrounded them.
On September 5 until the early hours of the morning of September 6 and again on September 8, pilots and crews of the 40th. Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) of the California Army National Guard blew up and evacuated them to safety. In total, 396 people and 27 animals were rescued during those two days in dangerous flight conditions.