Capt. Charles C. Napier, bottom right, poses with his team members while deployed to Afghanistan. (Courtesy Capt. Charles Napier)
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Capt. Charles Napier and his Pave Hawk crew hovered over the firefight, waiting for a lull to make the move and rescue three injured soldiers.
Insurgents had fired RPGs at the other HH-60, and two Army OH-58 Kiowas were returning fire.
Napier decided to land his Pave Hawk between the soldiers and the enemy, with the door gunners able to fire back while pararescuemen loaded the soldiers. During the mission, the aircraft was on the ground for just 15 seconds to load the critically wounded soldiers.
That Dec. 10, 2012, mission saved the lives of the injured soldiers and has resulted in several awards, including a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor presented to Napier on Oct. 17.
“That was a total surprise,” Napier said in an Armed Forces News Service article on the ceremony. “I would not have expected this [recognition] in my wildest dreams. I am really humbled.”
Napier was also awarded the Air Force Combat Action Medal and his 16th Air Medal. In addition to Napier, a Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded to Capt. Brian Dicks, Master Sgt. William Fritsch and Staff Sgt. Joshua Reid. Reid and Fritsch received their medals Sept. 20.
Capt. Ryan Prince, Capt. Patrick Mount, Tech. Sgt. Justin Wilks and Staff Sgt. Jason St. John will receive the Air Medal with Valor.
Napier is a student at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in California. He is studying French and plans to become an exchange pilot to fly search and rescue missions.