War Heroes II - Jason Dean Cunningham

Previous War Heroes Thread - Brian Chontosh

The President of the United States
Takes Pride in Presenting
The Air Force Cross

Jason Dean Cunningham
U.S. Air Force

For Services as Set Forth in the Following


The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, U.S.C., awards the Air Force Cross to Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as a pararescueman near the village of Marzak in the Paktia Province of Afghanistan on 4 March 2002.

On that proud day, Airman Cunningham was the primary Air Force Combat Search and Rescue medic assigned to a Quick Reaction Force tasked to recover two American servicemen evading capture in austere terrain occupied by massed Al Qaida and Taliban forces. Shortly before landing, his MH-47E helicopter received accurate rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire, severely disabling the aircraft and causing it to crash land.

The assault force formed a hasty defense and immediately suffered three fatalities and five critical casualties. Despite effective enemy fire, and at great risk to his own life, Airman Cunningham remained in the burning fuselage of the aircraft in order to treat the wounded.

As he moved his patients to a more secure location, mortar rounds began to impact within fifty feet of his position. Disregarding this extreme danger, he continued the movement and exposed himself to enemy fire on seven separate occasions.

When the second casualty collection point was also compromised, in a display of uncommon valor and gallantry, Airman Cunningham braved an intense small arms and rocket-propelled grenade attack while repositioning the critically wounded to a third collection point. Even after he was mortally wounded and quickly deteriorating, he continued to direct patient movement and transferred care to another medic.

In the end, his distinct efforts led to the successful delivery of ten gravely wounded Americans to life-saving medical treatment. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and in the dedication of his service to his country, Senior Airman Cunningham reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Rest in peace, Senior Airman Cunningham.

I’m not a rah-rah patriot, but I very much enjoy reading these citations. They amaze me. They amaze me because I know, from my time in the military, that these people are just like the kids I went to school with. They aren’t bred in some incubator for the military. They join, they get their training and, under some of the greatest stress imaginable, perform heroic deeds.

Someone will be along shortly to try and turn this into a debate. I’m glad I got to read the thread before it happened. It saddens me that so many awards are posthumous, but that doesn’t make less of their achievements.

Thanks for posting this.

I missed the first one, but this one I am very familiar with. I posted a thread about him when he was initially awarded the Air Force Cross.

May I never end up in the position he ended up in, but if I ever am may I act in the same brave and honorable manner. Thank you, SrA Cunningham, and rest in peace.

Now see, that to me is bravery. Trying to alleviate the horrors of war, at risk to your own life and limb.

Airman Doors’ thread can be found here.

Given the fact that there hasn’t been much news coverage of SrA Cunningham, I don’t think two threads devoted to him are too much.

I agree wholeheartedly.


I am also a Navy Veteran, Mr. Moto. I never served in combat either, but there were a couple of times that I came close to being killed. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your efforts in bringing these citations to the board and to the public eye.

I should leave this post at that…but I can’t.

Olentzero, you and others of your ilk just don’t get it. Under these circumstances and in threads like these, we don’t care that you think that “war is bad”. The United States of America has a long tradition of doing the right thing, even if it’s through the barrel of a gun. In this case, it’s getting another 20 million or so people out from under the thumb of yet another dictator. Millions of people in Europe, Japan, South Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq owe their freedom to the fact that America was willing to invest blood and treasure to pay for it.

Now, go sit in the corner with your ideological brethren and chant “WMD, Abu Grahib and Halliburton” to yourselves until you feel better. We will continue to enjoy the threads of Mr. Moto who honor those who do more for their country by simply waking up in the morning and going to work than many others are capable or willing to do.