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‘Demon’ Soldiers presented Air Medal with Valor for Afghanistan actions

By Sgt. Jarrett E. Allen | 1ST CAB PUBLIC AFFAIRS | June 02, 2017

     Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley acting senior commander, awarded the Air Medal with Valor to Capt. Eric V. Cornelius, Chief Warrant Officer 3 William Myrick and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert S. Adams, pilots with Company A, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., May 17 on Marshall Army Airfield for their acts of heroism in Afghanistan.

     Looking back on an event that took place in late September 2016 while deployed to Afghanistan, Adams described the situation that later led to him, along with the two other pilots, receiving the Air Medal with Valor.

     Adams said they were supporting a local Afghanistan military aviation unit while they were infilling their Soldiers into a known Taliban stronghold. He said as soon as the Afghan helicopters touched down, they immediately came under a significant ambush.

     “It seemed like the Taliban knew we were coming,” Adams said. “As soon as the helicopters touched down, there were enemy fires from all directions.”

     Adams said within the first 10 minutes of the firefight is when the Afghan ground forces began to take casualties, one of whom was their first sergeant. He said this was the first time he saw an engagement with the enemy in Afghanistan on this scale.

     With everything going awry that night, Adams said the level of commitment their Afghan counterparts were putting in really motivated him and the other pilots to be the best they could be to help them.

     Cornelius, commander of Co. A., 1st ARB, 1st Avn. Regt., said it was clear when he looks back on that night.

     “You always have those feelings when things are going a little bit differently,” Cornelius said. “As we were escorting the flight in, I remember seeing flashes of light, and it was almost like the insurgents were communicating.”

     Cornelius said if it wasn’t for Adams and Myrick, the other pilot that night, the situation would have turned out much worse than it did. He said they put themselves between the Taliban and the friendly forces to draw fire upon themselves so the Afghans could regroup and exfiltrate the area.

     Cornelius went on to say Adams was the best pilot he has ever flown with and that both he and Myrick are true warfighters. He said he was privileged to go out on missions with them because they are true warriors.

     “To be present with these guys and experience their heroism, it’s very humbling and I’m just proud of them,” Cornelius said. “That’s why we do this, to not leave.”

     Cornelius said it was a demonstration of what makes U.S. Army Aviation so great.