A Kentucky Air National Guard pilot received the Distinguished Flying Cross during an Aug. 10 ceremony, for acting to prevent his C-130 Hercules from crashing after the aircraft sustained what the service described as a “catastrophic mechanical failure.”
The official record shows that Lt. Col. John “J.T.” Hourigan acted quickly during the July 2016 mission over Owensboro, Ky., when his aircraft began vibrating so quickly that the crew could not monitor instruments and gauges and communicate with one another. The plane began losing airspeed and altitude as well. Relying on his instincts and training, he identified the culprit engine and began procedures to shut it down. Once that task was complete, he conducted an emergency landing and brought the plane home with all hands safe.
“Every aviator here has burned into our psyche three lines that drive our response to every emergency: maintain aircraft control, analyze the situation and take proper action,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, as he presented the medal to Hourigan. “This is a story I am going to use as chief for the remainder of my tenure when I talk about those three attributes.”