- Mark I. Fox
FOX, MARK I. For heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot of an F/A-18C Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing TWO onboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) deployed with Commander, United States FIFTH Fleet in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 21 March 2003. Captain Fox launched as the Mission Commander for a 68-plane strike to downtown Baghdad. This was the first coalition strike package of the operation. The 91 targets assigned to this strike package included leadership, command and control, air defense and offensive attack assets. Captain Fox’s flight was the first Navy division to enter the heavy defenses of Baghdad, targeting an A1 Samoud missile storage area northwest of the city. Evasive action was required to avoid a heavy barrage of anti-aircraft artillery fire that detonated directly beneath his aircraft, as he neared the weapon release point. Each aircraft in the division released their Joint Standoff Weapons, which were among the first weapons to be released by coalition aircraft during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The destruction of these key targets greatly reduced the striking power of the Iraqi regime and degraded their integrated air defense capabilities, paving the way for follow-own strike packages. By his superb airmanship, inspiring courage, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Captain Fox reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.