Soldier receives Air Medal with valor
On July 18, Staff Sgt. Neil T. Percifull, from United States Army Priority Air Transport Command, Army Air Operations Group, U.S. Army Military District of Washington was presented the Air Medal with valor at the U.S. Capitol building, by Florida Congressman C.W. Bill Young and Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Raymond F. Chandler, for actions and he displayed on Oct 27, 2008.
On the morning of Oct. 27, 2008, Percifull was in Company C, 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a crew chief of a UH-60L Black Hawk conducting his daily passenger mission.
"We were flying a movement mission from Bagram Air Base to several Forward Operating Bases and returning back to the Air Base," Staff Sgt. Neil T. Percifull, USAPAT, AAOG, MDW. "We noticed a check point on the main highway that heads south from Kabul to Kandahar that was unusual because none of the personnel were in any type of uniform. We had reported the situation to ground forces and pressed on."
Percifull and his team refueled the Black Hawk at the end of their mission, and were heading back to Bagram for the night.
"On our way back, we saw the suspected checkpoint and noticed 40-45 people hanging out under an overpass with several vehicles," said Percifull. "As soon as we flew over them, they scattered and headed in several different directions.
"We made several passes over top, and saw Afghan Army shooting at the group from the top of a house," said Percifull. "After the fourth pass over, we took fire from about 30 different people and from all directions."
We were going to return to Bagram since we were low on ammo and fuel, but we were shot with an RPG in the tail section of my Blackhawk," said Percifull. "We crashed and set up a perimeter around the downed helicopter and defended ourselves until we were picked up shortly after."
Percifull was submitted for the Air Medal for his actions that enabled his aircraft to successfully defend against enemy forces during hostile fire.
The Air Medal is awarded a person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the U.S. Army, and will have distinguished himself or herself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
"Staff Sgt. Percifull is an exceptional NCO who has served his country with distinction," said Col. Scott E. Sanborn, AAOG Commander. "I know that his family was especially proud to see him receive the award."
"I thought the Ceremony was great and a bit overwhelming considering the audience," said Percifull.
"I am glad we were able to recognize him for his achievements in the face of hostile fire in Oct. 2008," said Sanborn.
"I was very fortunate that my crew and I made it out without more serious injuries," said Percifull. "The situation was crazy, but we all made it back alive and well."
Article by Sgt. Jennifer C. Johnson, JFHQ-NCR/MDW Public Affairs