Crist receives Distinguished Flying Cross medal for heroic act in Iraq

  • Published
  • By Rachel Knight
  • 1-135th Attack Battalion
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Allen Crist received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a heroic act in which he gave up his seat in an Apache helicopter for a wounded Soldier during a battle in Iraq.

It was just past midnight July 1, 2007, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kevin Purtee, of Houston, and Chief Warrant Officer Crist used their Apache to evacuate a badly wounded 3rd Infantry Division Soldier from the middle of a heavy firefight.

Chief Warrant Officers Crist and Purtee were part of a four-Apache team that came to the help of U.S. troops who were pinned down under heavy fire in the flashpoint town of Ramadi.

The heavily armed Apaches destroyed two tractor-trailers used as cover by the insurgents. As the battle dragged on, the Apaches took numerous hits from small-arms fire. The ground commander warned that he had a critically wounded Soldier and that the medevac choppers had yet to arrive.

Chief Warrant Officers Purtee and Crist landed their Apache in the middle of the firefight and put their improvised plan into action. Chief Warrant Officer Crist and two other Soldiers helped put a badly wounded Spc. Jeffrey Jamaleldine, of Fort Smith, Ark., into the front seat of the Apache helicopter. Chief Warrant Officer Crist then strapped himself to the side of the helicopter and they quickly flew back to the refueling site, where Jamaleldine was taken to a field hospital.

"Seeing [Jamaleldine] the next day is what made it worth it," Chief Warrant Officer Crist said when he received his award.

Chief Warrant Officers Crist and Purtee didn't call it a day there - they refueled and reloaded weapons and flew back to rejoin the fight.

A documentary film was made about this heroic act called the "Battle of Donkey Island." The film was shown prior to Chief Warrant Officer Crist receiving his award.

Col. John Anderson, 35th Combat Aviation Brigade commander, did the honors of presenting Chief Warrant Officer Crist with the medal during the special ceremony.

"It is a real distinct honor to be giving this outstanding honor to you," Anderson said.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a medal awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to Nov. 11, 1918.

"It's just part of the job," Chief Warrant Officer Crist said.

Chief Warrant Officer Crist was surprised by a special visit from his fellow aviation comrades from Texas who fought in the battle with him. The group, which flew in from Texas just to see Chief Warrant Officer Crist receive the award, included Chief Warrant Officer 4 Purtee, Apache pilot; Capt. Stacy Rostofer, platoon leader; Capt. Matthew Salo, platoon leader; Capt. Todd Casterlin, executive officer; and Maj. Charles Brundrett, commander.

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