TULSA, Okla. - The Oklahoma Air National Guard held a ceremony Dec. 5 to celebrate the heroic airborne acts of Lt. Col. Michael Coloney during a Taliban attack on U.S. and Afghan special forces in Afghanistan in 2018.
Originally from Georgia, Coloney joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard in October 2005, married his wife, Courtney, in 2010 and started a family, calling Tulsa home. With a legacy of valor and two previous generations of Air Force fighter pilots, it was only natural for Coloney to choose the life of a fighter pilot.
In 2018, Coloney deployed to Afghanistan with the 125th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. On April 30, 2018, during a mission to clear a village in the Kapisa province of Afghanistan, friendly special operations troops were engaged by over 80 specially trained Taliban fighters using small arms, high-powered machine guns, sniper units, rockets and grenades. The attack resulted in 11 casualties, including one American killed in action.
Coloney was airborne in the area and was directed to provide air support to enable friendly forces to break contact with the enemy. For approximately five hours, Coloney worked with the combat controller on the ground to employ GPS-guided bombs and high-angle strafe attacks on enemy combatants, at times less than 30 meters from friendly positions.
Coloney's efforts allowed friendly forces to disengage with the enemy without further loss of life. His exemplary skill, outstanding airmanship and devotion to duty under extremely hazardous conditions saved the lives of many U.S. and Afghan Special Forces troops and earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to an officer or enlisted person of the armed forces of the United States for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The heroism or achievement must be entirely distinctive, involving operations that are not routine. It is the fourth-highest award for heroism and is the highest award given for extraordinary aerial achievement.