McIntosh grad gets flying award

Thu, 11/01/2007 - 4:08pm
By: The Citizen

A graduate of McIntosh High School was awarded the

McIntosh grad gets flying award

Distinguished Flying Cross Tuesday for helping a rescue mission Iraq for a downed helicopter defeat enemy forces, secure the crash site and recover the bodies of the soldiers killed in the crash.

Capt. George Collings was presented the medal on the flightline at Aviano Air base in Italy by his father and fellow F-16 pilot Major Gen. Michael Collings, the Senior U.S. Defense Representative to Egypt.

Capt. Collings distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-16CG pilot with the 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron based out of Balad Air Base, Iraq, officials said.

On Jan. 28, 2007, Capt. Collings was scrambled on an alert tasking as the flight lead for a close air support mission of friendly forces: The friendly forces had been en route to a downed AH-64 Apache helicopter when they began receiving small arms fire by anti-Iraqi forces wounding several soldiers and pinning the forces down.

As the battle raged, Capt. Collings located the friendly position approximately 100 meters from the enemy and after receiving clearance, dropped his ordnance and maneuvered his F-16 to an attack axis that reduced the chance of fratricide — friendly fire that injures or kills an ally — while simultaneously delivering a 500-pound laser-guided bomb inside a canal killing six anti-Iraqi forces and incapacitating 30 others. Seconds after impact, the coalition ground forces seized the advantage by storming the position and killing the remaining enemy, secured the crash site, and recovered the bodies of the American fallen warriors.

"It's really an amazing feeling to know that all the training we go through as pilots, that what the 'Buzzards' did down range and continue to do, is making a difference," Captain Collings said. "I didn't do anything any other pilot wouldn't have done in the exact same situation. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to help the guys out on the ground doing all the 'real work' by allowing them to take the enemy position and recover the downed Apache [helicopter and aircrew]."

“I'm a proud father," said General Collings. "As a father, it was really an incredible experience to be here. In fact, I was so choked up--I had to fight back the tears as the goose bumps ran up and down my arms throughout the ceremony. As a fellow aviator, I particularly understand the significance of what George did to be honored and I couldn't be prouder.

"Stability in the Middle East is real important and I think collectively, in what the 510th and the Air Force as a whole is doing in Iraq is contributing greatly to the Global War on Terror.”

Capt. Collings’ mother, Patty Ruddock and stepfather David Ruddock live in the Peachtree City area.

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