Distinguished Flying Cross

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, presents the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lt. Col. Timothy “TJ” Eaton, a reservist in the 419th Inspector General office. A B-1 pilot at the time, Eaton is credited with saving 62 lives while providing critical close air support to troops in Afghanistan when their base came under attack in 2008.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Lt. Col. Timothy “TJ” Eaton, a reservist in the 419th Inspector General office, received the Distinguished Flying Cross during a small ceremony here March 21, 2019.

Serving as a B-1 pilot in the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in 2008, Eaton is credited with saving 62 lives while providing critical close air support to troops in Afghanistan when their base came under attack by Taliban fighters. When Eaton and his crew arrived, the outpost was under assault in a 360-degree attack from machine guns, mortars, and propelled grenades. More than 70 soldiers were engaged in close quarters combat and the base was on the verge of being overrun.

Eaton and his crew employed 15 Joint Direct Attack Munitions on nine target sets, all while overcoming dual aircraft system failures, including loss of secure communication and a cockpit fire. His efforts significantly slowed the enemy attack and allowed friendly forces to regroup and repel the largest enemy attack in Afghanistan at that point in the war.

The prestigious DFC medal was presented by U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, who was serving as wing commander at Bagram Air Base at the time.

Holmes lauded the “teamwork and compassion” of Eaton and his crew during the mission and said he was honored to be part of the medal presentation.

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