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Marine Receives Aviation Award For Valor In Iraq

Also Nominated For Alfred A. Cunningham Award

Throughout history, Marines have displayed excellent leadership during times of war... and the leadership of one Marine in Iraq continues this Marine Corps Legacy.

Aero-News has learned that Flight 13 of the Order of Daedalians named Major Ricardo Martinez (above) the 2006 Outstanding Aviator of the Year during their monthly meeting June 8 at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (CA) Officer’s Club.

Martinez, a UH-1N Huey pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, is also 3rd MAW’s nominee for the 2006 Marine Corps Aviation Alfred A. Cunningham Award for his actions in Iraq.

"Martinez’s courageous actions in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq, displayed the preeminent Marine Warrior Spirit," said Maj. Gen. Samuel T. Helland, commanding general, 3rd MAW, in his letter of recommendation. "It’s with great pleasure that I nominate him for the award."

On a warm morning in November 2005, Martinez was section leader for an air element that was escorting a logistics convoy to its destination.

During the flight, Martinez’s wingman, an AH-1W Cobra gunship, received enemy ground fire and was shot down --resulting in the deaths of the two pilots.

Martinez, an Edinburg, TX native, unhesitatingly flew to the crash site to assess the situation despite the known threat. He knew the crash site had to be secured, as the neighborhood had a hostile reputation and is known to use coalition forces dead or alive as propaganda.

He returned to the convoy several miles away and picked up five volunteer Marines to insert at the crash site to provide security. He skillfully flew back to the site managing the power available with the helicopter at maximum gross weight.

Upon his return to the site, several Iraqis were already there. When they saw Martinez coming, they quickly fled the scene. Martinez again proved spectacular airmanship when he landed the aircraft in what is described as a small backyard surrounded by walls. His aircraft barely fit in the area, which included the downed aircraft.

"Martinez distinguished himself during superior duties while in Iraq," said Richard Martindell, adjudant, Flight 13 Daedalians. "We are excited and proud to recognize his accomplishments and good efforts."

(Aero-News salutes Lance Cpl. Robert W. Beaver, MCAS Miramar)

FMI: www.marines.mil

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