A U.S. Navy pilot received the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down a Syrian jet in 2017 — the first air-to-air kill for the U.S. military in 18 years.
The F-18 Super Hornet pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Mike “MOB” Tremel, shot down a Syrian government warplane after it attacked Washington-backed fighters near ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in June 2017, as Fox News previously reported.
Tremel is a graduate of the Navy’s premier fighter weapons school — known as “Top Gun” — and a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
His F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 that had dropped bombs near positions held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The U.S.-led coalition aircraft had “conducted a show of force” to turn back an attack by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces on the SDF in the town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqah.
The medal is awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement during aerial flights, as Military.com has reported. “It was an absolute team effort,” said Tremel, noting his valor wasn’t solo.
“Our whole mission out there was to defeat (the Islamic State group), annihilate ISIS,” he said. “At any point in time, if this had deescalated, that would have been great. We would have gotten mission success and (gone) back to continue to drop bombs on ISIS.”
The award was presented by the head of naval aviation, Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller III, at the Tailhook Association’s annual convention at the Nugget Casino Resort in Nevada over the weekend.