SecAF awards SANGB Pilot Distinguished Flying Cross

Story by Tech. Sgt. Chelsea FitzPatrick

Michigan National Guard

Major Brett DeVries reflects on the events that caused him to earn the Distinguished Flying Cross, presented to him by Secretary Barbara M. Barrett, the 25th Secretary of the Air Force, at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Nov. 6, 2020. The Secretary visited to Selfridge to award the Distinguished Flying Cross to DeVries for superior aerial achievement for successfully landing a damaged A-10 during a 2017 training flight over northern Michigan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Terry L. Atwell)

The 25th Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Barbara M. Barrett, awarded Maj. Brett DeVries, a pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron, the Distinguished Flying Cross during a ceremony here today, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

“The Distinguished Flying Cross is America’s oldest military aviation decoration,” Barrett said. “Awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement that is, ‘entirely distinctive, involving operations that are not routine,’ today, Major DeVries, you will join the ranks of some other American heroes.”

The training flight narrowly avoided catastrophe on July 20, 2017, when DeVries successfully landed his A-10 Thunderbolt II with neither a canopy nor fully-engaged landing gear.

“Major DeVries truly put service before self and demonstrated a level of Airmanship to which we should all aspire,” Brig. Gen. Rolf E. Mammen, commander of the 127th Wing, said during the ceremony.

The first award of the Distinguished Flying Cross was made to ten Army Air Corps aviators for participation in the Army Pan American Flight, officially awarded May 2, 1927. The first presentation of the award was on June 11, 1927, when President Calvin Coolidge honored Charles Lindbergh for his first transatlantic solo flight. While DeVries was flying the A-10 during the emergency, he relied heavily on his wingman, then-Maj. Shannon Vickers, and the maintenance team back at Selfridge. Mammen said DeVries had the entire Wing standing behind him.

“As a commander, I cannot tell you how proud I am of Major DeVries and our entire 127th Wing, who work so hard every day to ensure that we are ready to fly, fight and win,” Mammen said.

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