023 – The Distinguished Flying Cross

Besides notoriety, what do astronaut Alan Shepard, actor Clark Gable, aviatrix Amelia Earhart, and president George H. W. Bush all have in common?

Each distinguished him- or herself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

Each acted in the face of danger, well above those actions performed by others engaged in similar flight operations, with results so exceptional as to render them conspicuous among those accomplished by others involved in similar circumstances.

US Navy Commander and President and CEO of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society Chuck Sweeney
US Navy Commander Chuck Sweeney

Each of these four brave Americans, and thousands more like them, was awarded the military’s fourth highest decoration: the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On this episode, learn all about the prestigious medal and the organization designed to promote its heritage with guest Chuck Sweeney, retired US Navy Commander and President and CEO of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society. Learn how the medal was once awarded to civilians (like Amelia Earhart and Orville and Wilbur Wright) but is now reserved for military recipients. Then find out how Chuck was awarded three DFCs following a week of particularly harrowing combat operations while piloting an A-4 Skyhawk during the Vietnam conflict.

Chuck’s stories, and those of thousands of other DFCDistinguished Flying Cross. The fourth highest service medal by precedence awarded to service members who distinguishes themselves in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. recipients like him, are compiled in the riveting book, On Heroic Wings (available on Amazon).

During the listener question segment, we discuss helmet bags, go- / no-go pills, what my very first trap was like, whether I ever met “Lex” LeFon, and whether flying ever became ‘routine.’

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez. Episode artwork by Janek Krause.