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2012 Jabara Award winner named
Maj. Joseph Hext speaks to cadets from the staff tower of Mitchell Hall during a Jabara Award ceremony May 3, 2012. Hext received the award for his heroic actions in the skies over Afghanistan Aug. 21, 2010, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)
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2012 Jabara award winner named

Posted 5/11/2012   Updated 5/11/2012 Email story   Print story


5/11/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot and 2002 Air Force Academy graduate received the 2012 Jabara Award during a ceremony at the Academy May 3.

Maj. Joseph Hext received the award for heroism during a sortie supporting U.S. and Afghan forces in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom Aug. 21, 2010.

"This year's competition was extremely tough, and you can be proud of your professionalism," wrote Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould in his congratulatory letter announcing the selection.

Hext, who was flying lead on a close air support mission, received a request for emergency close air support moments after his wingman broke off to refuel. Insurgents, using both small arms and heavy machine guns, had pinned down coalition forces.

Hext immediately descended below 300 feet and conducted a show of force that gave coalition forces time to establish a defensive position. He followed up with three solo passes against a rapidly advancing enemy -- the last just 15 meters from friendly forces -- to drive back hostile forces.

Another element came under attack shortly after Hext's wingman returned from refueling. The two surgically struck with 30mm cannon and rockets, allowing the Afghan national army forces to fall back to a safe location. Hext executed another strafing run against a separate group of insurgent fighters, destroying the enemy position.

The ground commander later said, "We could not have made it out of the area without the lethal effects provided by the A-10s." Despite the ferocity and close-quarters nature of the firefights during the three distinct engagements, no coalition forces were lost.

Hext was one of seven Academy graduates nominated for the 2012 Jabara Award by major commands, forward operating agencies and direct reporting units. The award is presented annually on behalf of the Academy, the Association of Graduates and the Jabara family. It is named for Col. James Jabara, the first jet ace and second leading ace in the Korean War. Jabara won the Air Force Association's most prestigious award in 1951 and was recognized as one of 25 Americans who had contributed the most to education in 1957.

(Information provided by the Division of Development and Alumni Programs.)

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