BOISE, Idaho – A U.S. flag flown over Afghanistan during the Idaho Air National Guard’s Southwest Asia deployment was presented to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe Council Nov. 2.
The “Warrior Spirit,” an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft dedicated to the tribes several years ago by the IDANG, participated in several night missions throughout the deployment.
Capt. Mike Shufeldt, 124th Fighter Wing pilot, remembers the night of June 18 vividly. He was flying the Warrior Spirit, and situated next to him, near his lap, was the special U.S. flag honoring the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe.
He recalls taking off as the sun was setting, climbing above the mountain peaks off to his west. He saw a flash of light on the ground near a known allied checkpoint. He immediately realized the checkpoint was under attack by what appeared to be grenades and gunfire.
He spent the next three hours defending the checkpoint against the enemy ground forces. Although he received fire several times throughout the altercation, the enemy was unsuccessful in hitting the aircraft.
“The Warrior Spirit kept me safe and granted me the ability to protect the friendlies,” said Shufeldt. “Be it luck or fate, the Warrior Spirit and I were at the right place at the right time that night to save lives and affect the fight.”
While presenting the flag, Shufeldt told the Shoshone-Bannock Council about that special night in the Warrior Spirit.
“On behalf of myself and the Idaho National Guard, please accept this flag that I flew on that mission that night, in recognition of the Warrior Spirit and the mission it continues to help us accomplish,” said Shufeldt.
During the 124th Fighter Wing’s deployment to Southwest Asia, several U.S. flags were flown in honor of each tribe and will also be dedicated and presented.