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How to save a life

7 Nov

Over this past weekend I was able to reunite with my brother (who will be traveling for the next three years in pilot school with the air force) for the first time since his departure to flight school.  It was for a very special reason that we were able to get together and allowed our family to come together and celebrate the courage my brother has shown in his time overseas with the military.  While he was overseas, as the flight engineer on the Pave Hawk Helicopters, he had a death defying encounter.  He was coming back to the area to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross Award.  Here’s part of the story the Mercury News ran:

Lt. Col. Rhys W. Hunt, 2nd Lt. Andrew S. Hedin and Chief Master Sgt. Jason E. Red were sent to rescue five critically wounded U.S. Navy SEALs from the middle of a battle in Kandahar. Their team of helicopters came under heavy fire, including from rocket-propelled grenades, one of which exploded so close it rocked their ship. With Hunt at the controls, they returned fire. Red leaned out of the craft to keep his eye on their foes. Hedin sprayed additional gunfire that knocked out the enemy gunners. They were credited with saving the lives of 16 people as well as two helicopters.”

This was just one of the 4 or 5 stories told while giving recognition to these brave soldiers that are fighting overseas for us.  It’s something that I couldn’t be prouder of my brother for and it really puts in perspective how things are for soldiers in high intensity areas overseas.

Here are some of my photos from this extraordinary ceremony:

Driving in we saw the huge C-130’s practicing right overhead.

The ceremony was held in a large open hanger at Moffet Field.

This was the first time I’d seen my brother since he left for school and he looks so great in his officer’s uniform.

He had a lot of support there on Saturday including: Liz and her entire family, my mom and stepdad, my dad and stepmom, and of course Ian and I!  In the background is the helicopter my brother was on when he was engaged in the fire fight overseas.

Being introduced.

The flags.

My brother and the three others on his flight stood at attention while the commander explained why they were receiving this prestigious award.

In total, 11 people received this award on Saturday which was the highest number since WWII.  We are lucky to have these people in the military.

My brother accepting his award.

The oldest (still living) recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross Award then presented a plaque to the base so they would have history of this amazing feat.

They had all of the active Air Force members come down and support the award ceremony.

I’m so thankful for these people.

After the ceremony, we finally got to talk and hang out with my brother.  Here’s my mom and brother.

My brother and his new wife, Liz 🙂

Molly, Liz’s sister, in the helicopter.  They allowed us to go inside and all around the helicopter after the ceremony.

My brother basically lived in this tiny seat while overseas.

It’s a massive machine.

Here’s our dad.  He loves history and now that his son is such a big part of it, I can only imagine how he was feeling this day.

details of the helicopter.

My dad and Liz’s dad, Joe dangling their feet.

My brother with his helicopter.

The award.

Outside of the hanger.

The weather was so dark but beautiful.  It was kind of symbolic of the day.

Ohhhh, it is loveee!

2 Aug

My brother (Andrew Hedin) and his fiance (Liz Stewart) are getting married this September and what an amazing match they are!  My brother has flown in the air force for the past 9 years as many job titles but never his life long dream title of Pilot, although he is a pilot outside of the air force with gliders and private planes.  His dream has been to fly for the air force and major commercial airlines which was made a dream come true about a year or so ago.  He wanted to sharpen his skills before taking the final pilot’s test so he decided to go to a tutoring center to really hone his skills.  Who do you know was managing the office… Liz!  Needless to say, Andrew passed his test so he and Liz will be leaving after their honeymoon to go on his pilot journey for three years.  He’s lucky to be able to bring his other half along : )  I couldn’t be more happy about the union of the two and wanted to take some photos for them.  What better place to do it than an airshow!  The very thing that brought them together is the very thing that’s going to keep them together on their travels.  Here are a few of my favorites from Sunday.

The ring!

Airplanes : )

Watching the air show together which was incredible to watch.

In the background is my brother’s helicopter!!  It was SO cool to sit in his seat and see his “office.”  Funny note: His seat is actually so small he couldn’t sit in it properly.  He had to sit on it sideways and on one knee to be able to perform his duties on the helicopter.

The nose and tail of this plane both opened up, it was HUGE.


Watching the planes together.

There are more but I’ll leave it up to the happy couple to determine what they’d like to share!