Captain Louis "Shiner" Nolting: Heroism and Skill in Afghanistan's Skies - Distinguished Flying Cross #1

Captain Louis "Shiner" Nolting: Heroism and Skill in Afghanistan's Skies - Distinguished Flying Cross #1

January 26, 2024

The Mission:

It was March 29, 2011. Captain Nolting, piloting an HH-60G Pave Hawk for the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, received an urgent call. Four soldiers, critically wounded under enemy fire, needed immediate evacuation. This was the moment that defined his heroism.

When we talk about true military heroes, Captain Louis G. Nolting stands out. His remarkable story of courage and quick thinking, which earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross (full citation below) , is a testament to the extraordinary challenges and triumphs of the Afghanistan War in 2011. This is a snapshot of his first Distinguished Flying Cross.

Listen to "Shiner's" first Afterburn Podcast talking about his DFC sorties here:

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The Role of the HH-60G Pave Hawk

The capabilities of the HH-60G PaveHawk are crucial when it comes to the role of Combat Search and Rescue. Designed for the most demanding rescue operations, this helicopter proved to be indispensable in the harsh Afghan environment.

Hit by Enemy Fire

Navigating through Afghanistan's rugged, mountainous landscape is daunting for any pilot, more so under enemy fire. Captain Nolting's flight through this perilous terrain showcased not just his bravery but also his exceptional piloting skills. The mission took a dramatic turn when Captain Nolting’s helicopter was struck by enemy fire. Despite severe damage, he managed to maintain control. His skilled and decisive actions in these critical moments saved his crew and the aircraft from a catastrophic fate.

Captain Nolting's actions during the Afghanistan War in 2011 exemplify the bravery and dedication of our military forces. His story is not just about individual valor but also about the spirit and resilience of those involved in Combat Search and Rescue operations. It reminds us of the immense challenges our armed forces face and overcome with honor and skill.

The Distinguished Flying Cross Citation:

Captain Louis G. Nolting distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as HH-60G Pave Hawk Pilot,83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on 29 March 20jOn that date, Captain Nolting was alerted to an urgent evacuation request for four Soldiers critically wounded by enemy fire. After coordinating with attack helicopters to mitigate the threat in the Landing Zone and receiving high-risk mission approval from the Combined Air Operations Center Director, Captain Nolting skillfully flew an approach through channelized terrain to the mountainside point of injury. With only feet between his rotor system and the rockface, Captain Nolting kept a solid 120 foot hover while his crew prepared for hoist extraction. During the hover, Captain Nolting's aircraft came under effective enemy fire from an elevated position on the opposing ridge line. Rounds struck the main rotor, tail section, fuel tank, and number two engine. The immediate· loss of power caused the rotor speed to decay and the aircraft to· descend. Only a split second, precise control inputs could save the helicopter from definite disaster.' Captain Nolting slid the aircraft left from the rock face while executing a pedal tum, and while plummeting to within forty feet of the ground, aggressively gained forward airspeed, saving the aircraft- and seven crew members. He then worked with his crew to recover his crippled aircraft to a nearby airfield. His superb Airmanship saved his aircraft and the lives of his seven crew members. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Nolting reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Tags:#MilitaryCourage, #DistinguishedFlyingCross, #Afghanistan2011, #HH60PaveHawk, #CombatRescue, #AirForceDedication, #CaptainNolting