A-10 Pilot Awarded Silver Star For Unleashing Hell On Iraqi Army in 2003

popular
Air Force photo

In case we needed reminding of just how crucial a role the A-10 Thunderbolt II has played on the post-9/11 battlefield, a ‘Warthog’ pilot will soon receive the Silver Star for braving enemy ground fire to help beleaguered American forces carve a path to Baghdad during the opening phase of the Iraq War, Air Force Times reports.


Gregory Thornton, now a retired lieutenant colonel, was a captain on April 6, 2003, the day soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment encountered a phalanx of Iraqi army troops dug in on the eastern side of a bridge spanning the Tigris River. On the other side of the bridge Baghdad was still mostly under Iraqi military control.

As Iraqi tanks and armored infantry fighting vehicles began hammering the regiment’s lead element, Thornton swooped in. A sandstorm rendered visibility dangerous low, but for the next 33 minutes, Thornton and his leader managed to evade what his Silver Star citation describes as an “ever-increasing hailstorm of anti-aircraft fire. According to Air Force Times, Thornton destroyed or dismantled three T-72 tanks, six armored personnel carriers, and several utility vehicles that were within striking distance of the American troops.

“Captain Thornton repeatedly maneuvered his aircraft to within 3,000 feet of enemy forces to bring his 30-millimeter Gatling gun to bear,” a synopsis of the Silver Star citation reads. “This courageous and aggressive attack, while under withering fire and in poor weather, along with Captain Thornton’s superior flying skills and true attack pilot grit, allowed the Task Force and Armor Battalion to successfully accomplish their objective linking up with coalition forces completing the 360-degree encirclement of Baghdad.”   

Thornton, who initially received a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for his role in the 2003 campaign, was one of eight airmen whose valor awards were upgraded earlier this year following a Department of Defense review of medals bestowed for actions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Silver Star is the nation’s third highest award for valor.

Gen. Mike Holmes, the head of Air Combat Command, will present Thornton with the medal in a ceremony on the evening of June 30 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

The ceremony comes on the heels of the House Armed Services Committee’s 60-1 vote to authorize $696.5 billion in defense spending for 2018, a package that includes $103 million to preserve three A-10 Warthog squadrons, assuaging concerns that the iconic jet will soon be fully phased out of the U.S. military’s arsenal.   

Watch Next:

A Syrian commando-in-training applies the safety on his rifle during basic rifle marksmanship training in Syria, July 20, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Alec Dionne)

The U.S. government failed to effectively account for nearly $715.8 million in weapons and equipment allocated to Syrian partners as part of the multinational counter-ISIS fight, according to a new report from the Defense Department inspector general.

Read More

On Feb. 19, 1945, more than 70,000 U.S. Marines conducted an amphibious assault to take the Island of Iwo Jima from fortified Japanese forces. Over the next 36 days nearly 7,000 Marines would be killed during the battle, which is regarded as one of the bloodiest of World War II, as they faced hidden enemy artillery, machine guns, vast bunker systems and underground tunnels. Of the 82 Marines who earned the Medal of Honor during all of World War II, 22 medals were earned for actions on Iwo Jima.

Now, 75 years later, 28 Marines and Sailors who fought on Iwo Jima gathered to remember the battle at the 75th and final commemoration sunset ceremony Feb. 15, 2020, at the Pacific Views Event Center on Camp Pendleton, California.

Read More
REUTERS/Scott Audette/File Photo

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has long been seen as an apologist for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whom she met during a secret trip to Damascus in January 2017.

Most recently, a video was posted on Twitter shows Gabbard evading a question about whether Assad is a war criminal.

Since Gabbard is the only actively serving member of the military who is running for president — she is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard — Task & Purpose sought to clarify whether she believes Assad has used chlorine gas and chemical weapons to kill his own people.

Read More
Barrett's bolt-action Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) system (Courtesy photo)

The Army is almost doubling its purchase of new bolt-action Precision Sniper Rifles as its primary anti-personnel sniper system of choice, according to budget documents.

Read More
The GAU-5A Aircrew Self Defense Weapon (U.S. Air Force photo)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Air Force gunsmiths recently completed delivery of a new M4-style carbine designed to break down small enough to fit under most pilot ejection seats.

Read More