Lacrosse named Aviator of the Year
March 29, 2011
- "Not without your wounded, which means we're going to come into a hot LZ and get you no matter what."
- "In my eyes, anyone wearing a uniform right now is a hero."
HOHENFELS, Germany -- A recent addition to the Hohenfels Falcons observer/controller team has been named the 2010 Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) Aviator of the Year.
Created to recognize outstanding individual achievement in Army aviation, the Quad-A Award counts Medal of Honor recipients among its alumni. Its nominees reflect all branches of Army aviators, such as reconnaissance, assault, and medevac.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason J. Lacrosse distinguished himself as the air mission commander during a rescue operation near the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, April 2, 2010. Taking fire from an approximate 200 Taliban fighters, the three Black Hawk medevac teams extracted 11 wounded German Soldiers from the ambush.
The April 2 mission resulted in a host of honors to the 14 U.S. Soldiers involved, including being the first foreigners to ever receive the Bundeswehr Gold Cross, Germany's highest award for valor. Lacrosse, who personally flew six trips, also earned the Silver Star.
Though the media attention has been fairly intense, Lacrosse said he appreciates the increased awareness for what medevac units bring to the battlefield.
"You don't hear a lot about "Dustoff" downrange and what they're doing, and now that this has happened it's like, hey, these guys are actually going into the fight and getting shot at, and we don't have anything to defend ourselves except our chase birds," said Lacrosse.
The Dustoff designation for medevac helicopters dates back to Vietnam and Major Charles Kelly whose mantra "When I have your wounded" has become the battle cry for Dustoff crews everywhere.
"That's what we as Dustoff pilots adhere to. It's in our blood. Not without your wounded, which means we're going to come into a hot LZ (landing zone) and get you no matter what, and on April 2nd I guess we kind of did that," said Lacrosse.
Lacrosse was also named the Dustoff Associations Aviator of the year, and his crew earned Flight Medic of the year, Crew Chief of the Year, and Rescue Unit of the year.
"If you're in a Dustoff unit and you get Dustoff Aviator of the year, that's huge," said Lacrosse. "But the Quad A award is Army wide. Recon, assault, anyone can be put in for it."
"The Army has great aviators everywhere, and I'm sure it was tough to vote me as Aviator of the Year," said Lacrosse. "I'm just honored to be awarded this."
Lacrosse and his wife will be flown to Nashville, TN for an award presentation April 16.
Despite all the accolades, Lacrosse remains humble.
"In my eyes, anyone wearing a uniform right now is a hero," Lacrosse said. "These guys are going down there fighting the fight just like I did, and they're doing things equal to if not better than we did that day, and maybe they just haven't been recognized for it."
After 18 years in the army, and three combat deployments, Lacrosse said he's looking forward to being able to spend more time with his wife and three children here at Hohenfels.
"For my family, it was time to go someplace where I at least knew I'd be in Germany for 3 years," said Lacrosse. "Maybe I'll be at work, but at least I'm here where if they want to see me, they can come see me."
At the same time, though, Lacrosse acknowledges a desire to return to combat and his fellow soldiers.
"I've been flying medevac since 2002, so I have a lot of medevac experience. I would love to go down there and be with those guys and pass my experience onto them. I have friends down there right now and I think sometimes that I should be with them," Lacrosse said. "But being here, I get to pass on my experience to the units that are going downrange. I'm happy knowing that I can at least train them here before they go."