F-16 Pilot Receives Kolligian Safety Award
(June 23, 2009)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz assisted by Koren Kolligan presents Lt. Col. Booth M. Johnston with the Koren Kolligian Jr. Safety Trophy June 16.
|WASHINGTON (6/17/2009 - AFNS) --- One of the most coveted Air Force safety awards was
presented by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz to an Air
National Guard pilot during a ceremony here June 16.
The award recipient, Lt. Col. Booth M. Johnston, received the Koren
Kolligian Jr. Trophy for an October 2007 incident in which he
suffered a severe back and neck injury during a high-G maneuver.
Despite the near total loss of use and lack of sensation in his
hands and feet, Colonel Johnston was eventually able to level the
aircraft and land at Ellington Field, Texas.
"It takes a certain amount of courage, tenacity and focus in any
aircraft emergency. In this case, it wasn't the airplane that had a
mechanical problem, rather it was the aviator himself, making
recovery of the aircraft a very special achievement," said Air Force
Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.
In his 47th year attending the ceremony, Koren Kolligian, nephew of
the trophy's namesake, assisted General Schwartz in the
"The Air Force has been infused in our family culture," Mr.
Kolligian said. "We are very proud to represent my uncle and honor
"Not only did he match the standards established for this
award, but I think it is a reflection of how people rise to the occasion no
matter how difficult the circumstances," General Schwartz said. "For that, your
Air Force is grateful."
The Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy is presented each year in the name and memory of
1st Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr., an Air Force pilot declared missing in the line of
duty when his T-33 aircraft disappeared off the California coast Sept. 14, 1955.
"This is a great honor to me," Colonel Johnston said. "But I'd like to thank my
two wingmen for going above and beyond, which is what the Air Force is all
The Kolligian Trophy was established in 1958, and is the only Air Force
individual safety award personally presented by the Air Force chief of staff.
The trophy, a symbolic representation of an Air Force jet pilot mounted on a
marble base, was established to recognize outstanding feats of airmanship by
aircrew members who by extraordinary skill, exceptional alertness, ingenuity, or
proficiency, averted accidents or minimized the seriousness of the accidents in
terms of injury, loss of life, aircraft or property damage.
Article by USAF MSgt. Stan Parker
USAF photo by Michael Pausic
Secretary of the Air Force Office
Air Force News Service
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