Former Air Force goalie earns Distinguished Flying Cross

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(Air Force photo)

(Air Force photo)

A former stalwart inside the crease for the Air Force Academy hockey team was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions last fall that saved the lives of 72 servicemen.

Before Capt. Mike Polidor earned his wings and started flying F-15s, he started in goal for the Air Force Academy’s hockey team from 2001 to 2004.

Polidor and pilot Capt. Aaron Dove helped coordinate strikes by 19 aircraft in October against insurgents attacking a U.S. outpost in Afghanistan. They are credited for saving 72 soldiers in a firefight that claimed the lives of eight soldiers from Fort Carson’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.

Click on this link for a write up of the battle.

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10 Comments

  1. First, don’t take my following comments as a hit against the great support our pilots provide us on the ground. This hit is against the AF establishment of taking care of the pilot and blowing the Battlefield Airmen off.

    While Capt Polidor did outstanding job supporting COP Keating my JTACs whom were involved from the very second this kicked off till 17 days later once the last soldier was pulled out are getting push back on the decorations we submitted on them.

    I personnally got called by AFCENT A-1, Awards and Decorations and told that there is a very big possibility that my SrA’s BSM for tha 17 day period would be returned and told to put into his end of tour decoration. She said that Airmen don’t get 2 BSMs during one deployment.

    SrA Montes controlled all aircraft from surface to 30,000 feet that day while coordinating with the Ground Commander, JFOs, and deconflicting with Artillery Fires. He did this for 14 hours straight before we were able to get another JTAC to his location to assist. Also realize, not a single bomb came off those fighters until SrA Montes cleared them “HOT”. It is the JTACs responsibility to ensure the ground commanders intent is met, he is the one telling that pilot where to target. But in the AF mind it is the pilot that saved the day and continualy neglect to high light the fact that it is the JTAC that orchestrates this production. But who wants to highlight the great things that an enlisted kid does? I’m just tired of the way the AF rewards the pilots, while they ignore the amount of responsibility they put on my JTACs with no reward or recognition. But the minute something bad happens, the first person that is blamed is the JTAC on the ground. And they wonder why we are only 57% manned in the TACP community.

  2. I sincerely hope Airman Ryan receives the recognition he deserves. The response provided by the Awards and Decorations section is unacceptable. Each submission should be judged on its own merits. To simply assume that “every” airman is only deserving of one decoration per deployment somehow discredits or fails to honor those who truly do something exceptional. I received my first AFCM as an A1C, my first AFMSM as a SSgt – I’m so thankful my supervisors fought hard to ensure I received the recognition they thought I deserved. It definitely impacted me in a positive way…proudly serving for 22 years.

  3. Ryan,
    SrA Montes, along with the rest of the ETAC crowd are real heros-speaking from 20+ years in A-10s. Keep fighting!
    …and invite the awards and decs goober out to the next event. 2 BSMs is probably a minimum per deployment!

  4. Dale Andrews on

    Hey, I’ve got a whole ‘raft’ of medals, and I’ve never been shot at! Not my fault, I just volunteered for every damned thing. I can absolutely believe the ‘madness’ surrounding the Airmen’s BSMs. Hell, you ever consider upgrading them to Silver Stars? It might make it easier to get them through (LOL!). Sometimes the ‘rules’ for these well deserved decorations can be ridiculous. Good luck to you and your Airmen.

  5. Went to the awards presentation at Joint Base Lewis McChord a month ago where 2 SSM’s, 8 BSM’s, and 2 PHM’s where delivered to the very men you speak of, presented by General Swartz. Some of the most amazing stories of heroeism i have heard via decoration dialouge. Good to see some of the old CCT boys supporting from around the country. Keep fightin the good fight. But be assured that all of the orchestration means little without the means to deliver. These men make everyones job more effective and save lives by allowing the men up high to deliver with decisive force america’s response.

  6. From the sounds of things, why stop at Bronze….Go for a Silver-that would sovle the problem of 2 BSMs in one deployment.

    CRITERIA

    The Silver Star may be awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, is cited for gallantry in action;
    against an enemy of the United States;
    while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or,

    while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
    The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for the award of a Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, or Air Force Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.

    ORDER OF PRECEDENCE

    The Silver Star is worn after the service Distinguished Service Medal and before the Defense Superior Service Medal.

  7. John Farese ('83) on

    I agree. Having flown numerous sorties in the AOR, our brave airmen on the ground need to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. Hope all of them in this battle get their due awards.

  8. Does anyone have a rough idea of how many USAFA grads have won the Distinguished Flying Cross and higher awards over the past year? I suspect dozens, perhaps 100+; but unless there is some USAFA Athletic Connection, AOG doesn’t seem to care. Congrats to Capt Polidar and other servicemen/women doing great, vital work–it should not be belittled by article leads about college sports participation.

  9. First, don’t take my following comments as a hit against the great support our pilots provide us on the ground. This hit is against the AF establishment of taking care of the pilot and blowing the Battlefield Airmen off.

    While Capt Polidor did outstanding job supporting COP Keating my JTACs whom were involved from the very second this kicked off till 17 days later once the last soldier was pulled out are getting push back on the decorations we submitted on them.

    I personnally got called by AFCENT A-1, Awards and Decorations and told that there is a very big possibility that my SrA’s BSM for tha 17 day period would be returned and told to put into his end of tour decoration. She said that Airmen don’t get 2 BSMs during one deployment.

    SrA Montes controlled all aircraft from surface to 30,000 feet that day while coordinating with the Ground Commander, JFOs, and deconflicting with Artillery Fires. He did this for 14 hours straight before we were able to get another JTAC to his location to assist. Also realize, not a single bomb came off those fighters until SrA Montes cleared them “HOT”. It is the JTACs responsibility to ensure the ground commanders intent is met, he is the one telling that pilot where to target. But in the AF mind it is the pilot that saved the day and continualy neglect to high light the fact that it is the JTAC that orchestrates this production. But who wants to highlight the great things that an enlisted kid does? I’m just tired of the way the AF rewards the pilots, while they ignore the amount of responsibility they put on my JTACs with no reward or recognition. But the minute something bad happens, the first person that is blamed is the JTAC on the ground. And they wonder why we are only 57% manned in the TACP community.

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