Foil: 6 Panel: Distinguished Flying Cross Society Column: 4 Line: 16
Wall of Honor Level: Air and Space Friend
Ms. Joyce H. Linch
Major Edward H. Linch III distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as F-16C+ Flight Lead Pilot, 160th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 410th Air Expeditionary Wing at a classified location on 30 March 2003. On that date, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, Major Linch's flight supported the Counter-Theater Ballistic Missile mission during a four-hour vulnerability period with highly adverse weather conditions. The four-hour sortie conducted with night vision goggles required a flight lead with exceptional skill, maturity, and discipline. During the final hour of his vulnerability period, Major Linch started to receive urgent calls on the emergency guard frequency from a Coalition Special Forces team that was being overrun by a numerically superior enemy force. At extreme risk to himself and his flight, Major Linch descended through hazardous weather conditions at night with low ceilings, poor visibility, and limited night vision goggle illumination in order to provide air support for the trapped team. With an infrared strobe as the only means of identifying the friendly troops in contact, Major Linch maneuvered his flight for several reconnaissance and bombing passes in weather conditions not suitable for the mission or his equipment.
While visual with the friendly position and exposing himself to ground threats for an extended amount of time, Major Linch was able to direct his wingman to execute a bombing attack in the vicinity of the enemy. He also used flares to distract the enemy who had surrounded the friendly position and were only 300 meters away. He did this with full knowledge that he would be highlighting his position to the enemy defenses and drawing enemy fire the entire time. This afforded an opportunity for the ground team to escape and later be rescued in a major combat search and rescue effort.
The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major Linch reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force. Major Linen's hometown is West Point, GA. At the time of this mission, he was a Delta Air Lines pilot recalled to active duty via the Alabama Air Guard.
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