Christopher N. Duhon

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major Christopher N. Duhon, Chief, Future Operations, Air Forces Strategic-Operations Division, Air Force Global Strike Command, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, distinguished by heroism while participating in aerial flight as Instructor Pilot, with duties at 28th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, on 1 May 2018. On that date, during a training flight in the vicinity of Nine Point Mesa, Texas, while performing low-level defensive maneuvers on Instrument Flight Rules Military Training Route 178 near Point Juliet, HAWK 91 experienced a Number Four Engine Fire Light, immediately followed by Number Three Engine and Right Over Wing Fairing Fire Lights. Affirming the fire indications, HAWK 91’s wingman witnessed and reported two distinct fireballs emanating from the right side of the aircraft in and near the engine nacelles. Without hesitation, the crew immediately ceased tactical maneuvering, climbed to Minimum Safe Altitude, and executed applicable boldface procedures. Correspondingly, the Number Four Engine and Right Over Wing Fairing Fire Lights extinguished; however, the Number Three Engine Fire Light remained illuminated, indicating the fire suppressant system had failed to control the fire. In response, and following the Technical Order, Major Duhon commanded a controlled manual ejection from the burning aircraft. During the initial ejection attempt, the Offensive Systems Operator’s seat failed to deploy, trapping the crewmember. Observing the unsuccessful ejection, the Defensive Systems Operator quickly alerted Major Duhon, who immediately halted the ejection sequence. Ever faithful to their wingman and mission, and knowing the fire and controllability of the aircraft could get significantly worse at any moment, the entire crew decided to remain with the aircraft and their fellow crewmember, risking life and limb to execute a two-engine emergency landing at Midland International Airport, Texas. Fighting disorientation form the combined distractions of Master Warning aural tones, depressurization and wind noise, Major Duhon maintained steadfast composure and command of the disabled aircraft and crew throughout the emergency. HAWK 91’s crew exemplified courage, never wavered, and remained committed to each other and their mission of survival, resulting in the first-ever successful landing of a B-1B experiencing these malfunctions. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Major Duhon reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.