Alden-Conger graduate Thomas decorated with Distinguished Flying Cross Medal

Published 2:10 pm Saturday, May 1, 2010

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Larry G. Thomas has been decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal. The medal, created by Congress more than 80 years ago, is America’s oldest military aviation award.

The medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The performance of the act of heroism must by evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty.

Thomas received the medal for distinguished, extraordinary achievement while serving as the Bravo Company, 3rd-82nd Aviation Regiment, Task Force Talon CH-47 helicopter Flight Leader during Operation Spin Arwa, a large scale assault operation in the highly contested Zarhi-Panjiway District of Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan.

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As the flight leader, Chief Warrant Office 3 Thomas served as the pilot-in-command of the lead CH-47F “Chinooks” of a heavy-lift helicopter element consisting of 10 helicopters. Serving under the call sign “Flipper 19,” he skillfully planned, coordinated and executed the flight mission that air assaulted 488 British soldiers and Afghan National Army soldiers into their objective areas under zero percent illumination. These conditions allowed the ground commander to seize the initiative in the area and destroy a critical enemy network that threatened security and freedom of movement in the area. Thomas led a six Chinook helicopter element into the objective area during the insertion of the first airlift of the air assault. He simultaneously coordinated the landing zone conditions with the attack helicopter element, battlefield illumination and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance updates from command headquarters.

His bold and courageous achievement while in aerial flight proved essential to the success of friendly forces during Operation Spin Arwa. His heroic actions were directly responsible for the kill and capture of 30 enemy forces, including two known enemy leaders from the area and hundreds of enemy weapons, improvised explosive device-making materials, and exploitable enemy intelligence products. Thomas’ leadership, aviator skills, and superior airmanship actions clearly represent the highest level of accomplishment while participating in aerial flight against armed enemy forces.

Thomas is a CH-47 Chinook helicopter standardization instructor pilot assigned to 3rd Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, N.C. The Chief Warrant Officer 3 has served in the military for 20 years.

He is the son of Gene L. and Elaine L. Thomas of Alden.

Thomas is a 1989 graduate of Alden-Conger High School.