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NEWS | Sept. 27, 2022

305th Pilot awarded by the Order of the Daedalians

By Senior Airman Matt Porter 87th Air Base Wing

Lt. Col. Eric Kut, a 6th Airlift Squadron pilot at the 305th Air Mobility Wing, was presented the exceptional aviator award by the Order of Daedalians at a ceremony on Sept. 26, 2022, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

During the ceremony, U.S. Maj. Gen. Retired Jerrod Allen, order of daedalians national commander, presented the award to Kut. Kut distinguished himself through exceptional courage, leadership and airmanship while leading the C-17 crew of Reach 871 to airlift a record-setting 823 civilians out of a chaotic Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“Despite thousands of Afghan civilians engulfing the aircraft, Kut exhibited leadership under fire by directing his crew to prepare for flight,” said Allen. “He and his crew braved grave danger while mitigating a myriad of threats to safely execute a tactical departure at night, amid small arms fire, and terrain.”

Twelve hours after the record-breaking flight, Kut and his crew returned to Kabul with 231 additional U.S. service members and evacuated an additional 297 civilians, totalling 1,120 rescued personnel.

Kut’s complex tactical egress validated non-tower operations at the field, enabling safe passage for 42 future non-combatant personnel evacuations.

“As pilots we do what we do,” said Kut. “None of this would have been possible without the help of my extraordinary aircrew, the brave men and women who performed at their best when things were seemingly at their worst.”

Kut also extended gratitude for the men and women who performed maintenance on the aircraft, allowing it to get off the ground and avoid any myriad of technical problems that may have impeded the airlift.

As a result of Kut and his crew’s actions, the Air Mobility Command Commander waived the floor-load restrictions from 300 to 450 passengers. As a result, over 124,000 personnel were able to be evacuated from Kabul in what became the largest non-combatant airlift evacuation in U.S. history.

“The extraordinary courage, compassion, and professionalism demonstrated by Lt. Col. Kut and his crew reflect great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force,” said Allen.

The Order was organized on March 26, 1934 by a representative group of American World War I pilots to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism, love of country, and the high ideals of sacrifice which place service to nation above personal safety or position.

Kut joins a distinguished list of 23 other aviators honored by the Order with this award.