MILE HIGH FLIGHT 18
DISTINGUISHED PILOT 2003
Lt Col Michael A. LOH, COANG
The following was excerpted from the 120th Fighter Squadron Commander's nomination package for Lt Col Loh.
Summary of military background: LTC Michael Loh was commissioned in 1986 at the United States Air Force Academy and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, TX in the class of 86-01. Upon graduation, LTC Loh attended F-16 Replacement Training Unit (RTU) in 1986 and flew with the 313th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Hahn AB, Germany. His last active duty assignment was as an F-16 Evaluator and Instructor pilot with the 310 TFTS at Luke AFB, Arizona before joining the 120th Fighter Squadron as an F-16C pilot in September 1991. LTC Loh currently serves as the Commander, 140th Operations Support Flight, 140th Operations Group, 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard at Buckley AFB, Colorado.
Awards, decorations, special honors: LTC Loh has been awarded three Air Medals for distinction in combat flight operations and the Bronze Star Medal for his actions in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
Current squadron duties: Currently, LTC Loh holds the position of Commander, 140th Operations Support Flight, where he oversees all functions and over 20 personnel within Intelligence, Administration, and the Wing F-16 Weapons and Tactics section.
Military aircraft flown:
F-16 Hours: 2442
Combat Hours: 128
Total Military Flying Hours: 2724
Summary of civilian flying experience:
United Airlines Pilot, Boeing 737, 727, 747
Total Civilian Flying Hours: 3000
LTC Loh is nominated for the 2003 Mile High Flight 18 Distinguished Pilot Award for his outstanding performance as the “D” Flight Commander for the 120th Fighter Squadron from January 2003 to July 2003. During this time, LTC Loh’s selfless dedication to duty, ceaseless efforts, and noteworthy leadership skills were directly responsible for the distinctive accomplishments of the 120th Fighter Squadron during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. As the commander of nine assigned pilots, LTC Loh was responsible for the safe and effective combat employment of over 130 sorties and 650 flying hours. His leadership by example set the tone for his pilots to be the most lethal and survivable group of flyers possible and they were an integral part of the destruction of the enemy’s military forces and the removal of an oppressive regime.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael A. Loh, 120 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 410 Air Expeditionary Operations Group, 410th Air Expeditionary Wing distinguished himself through heroic flying during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. On 29 March 2003, Lieutenant Colonel Loh was the mission commander directly responsible for all combat tactical employment in the western Iraq area of operations. This force included over 30 coalition attack aircraft engaged in denying Iraq the ability to use surface-to-surface ballistic missiles against coalition forces or neighboring countries. Lieutenant Colonel Loh led a two-ship flight of F-16Cs equipped with the LITENING II Targeting System, Situational Awareness Data Link, and Laser Guided Bomb Unit-12s on an assigned combat strike and Strike Control and Reconnaissance mission as part of this force. While conducting reconnaissance of the area, Lieutenant Colonel Loh observed five large, previously undetected enemy forces with armor, artillery and 57-millimeter anti-aircraft weapons directly threatening coalition ground forces attempting to take control of the strategically important Euphrates River Dam at Hadithah. Descending below the cloud level and thereby placing himself and his flight under direct and intense 57-millimeter anti-aircraft fire, Lieutenant Colonel Loh acted as the on-scene commander, coordinated for additional assets, and directed other flights to begin attacking these targets. Lieutenant Colonel Loh utilized all his available fuel, then rapidly proceeded to an aerial refueling and returned to the target area. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, and under constant enemy anti-aircraft artillery fire, Lieutenant Colonel Loh led his flight in coordinated laser-guided bomb unit-12 attacks on the enemy positions. The resulting destruction of four 57-millimeter anti-aircraft artillery pieces, the damage of two T-55 Iraqi tanks, and the termination of an undetermined number of enemy allowed the coalition ground forces to proceed to their assigned objective and wrest control from the enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Loh directly affected the successful outcome of the mission to secure control of the dam and thereby aid coalition ground forces in continuing their progress towards Baghdad. During this extended mission, Lieutenant Colonel Loh exhibited outstanding aerial leadership and flying skills under the extreme and continuous stress of enemy fire. This is merely one example of LTC Loh’s superior airmanship and is indicative of excellence in his aviation career.
From 18 February through 26 April 2003, Lt Col Loh was responsible for the preparation, scheduling, and tactical execution of all “D” flight operations in support of the 120th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron’s (EFS) efforts during combat employment in Operation Southern Watch and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. During this period, D flight flawlessly conducted over 130 sorties and 650 hours (including over 300 hours of NVG flight) in the Western Area of Operations (AO) of Iraq supporting the strategically critical Counter-Theatre Ballistic Missile (C-TBM) mission. The 120th EFS operational tasking consisted of three separate missions; Non-Traditional Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (NTISR) searching for SCUD missiles and related equipment, Close Air Support (CAS) of multi-national special-forces ground teams supporting the C-TBM mission in the AO, and destroying targets of opportunity. Lt Col Loh’s experience, guidance, and superb leadership skills were directly responsible for the excellent performance of all nine F-16 pilots assigned and attached to “D” flight.
Lt Col Loh and “D” flight were responsible for the management of all the Scheduling functions for the 120th EFS throughout Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. His ability to coordinate all of the required functions of a squadron Scheduling section while effectively managing the schedule, crew rest, and performance of his flight was instrumental to the squadron’s success. Lt Col Loh set the standard in the air as well as on the ground, setting the finest of examples as a wartime fighter pilot and commander.
LTC Loh is a superlative officer and peerless leader who is always my first choice for any communications with Higher Headquarters because of his credibility and superb communication skills. LTC Loh has been selected by the 140th Wing Commander to act as a hiring or promotion board president on several occasions because of his unquestionable honesty and impartial view of situations. Mike serves United Airlines as a Standards Captain at the Denver Training Center on the Boeing 737 aircraft which takes a considerable amount of time when combined with his commitment of a minimum of ten days a month to the Guard. Mike also devotes a large portion of his extremely busy schedule in efforts to support Summitview Elementary school, Littleton, Colorado as a volunteer parent.
In conclusion, LTC Mike “Fer” Loh is one of America’s finest fighter pilots, a professional officer, and epitomizes the ideals of a dedicated patriot and citizen soldier.
CURTIS H. HUGHES, LTC, COANG 25 March 2004
Commander, 120th Fighter Squadron
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