Armando Espinoza

Captain Armando Espinoza, United States Marine Corps, is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Helicopter Aircraft Commander in a two-plane section of CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters while attached to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 10 April 2003. Captain Espinoza provided multiple day and night casualty evacuation missions in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ attack into Baghdad. His ability to tactically maneuver his helicopter in urban areas and maintain flawless situational awareness, helped render the enemy’s attack ineffective. Landing under enemy fire, he loaded casualties while the lead aircraft provided suppressive fires. He departed the zone while returning fire and conducting evasive maneuvering enroute. He made four repeated trips in order to ensure the evacuation of all wounded personnel. His leadership, situational awareness, and calm presence under fire ensured the safe evacuation of 28 Marines and a family of seven Iraqi nationals. By his superb airmanship, inspiring courage, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Captain Espinoza reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.