INDIAN SPRINGS, NV – An Air Force drone pilot who managed to fly his MQ-9 Reaper for 120 straight hours through multiple firefights will receive the Medal of Honor, Air Force officials confirmed today. Major Curtis Beasley will be the first Airman to receive the nation’s highest award since the Vietnam War.
He is also the first American to receive the Medal of Honor for actions taken inside the United States since the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Beasley, from Dubuque, Iowa, will receive the award for his actions at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada during the first days of August 2010. In a week of heavy combat he stayed at his console for more than five straight days, remotely piloting his Reaper drone through dozens of firefights 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan.
Eschewing proper meals, Major Beasley survived on “to-go plates” brought to him from the base dining facility by a junior Airman. A nearby bucket was used as a waste receptacle.
The medal will be in addition to the multiple Purple Hearts he has already been awarded for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome endured during the same event. He was also honored for a sprained ankle he received tripping over an extension cord while leaving his workstation.
Major Beasley received a congratulatory phone call from President Obama at Creech Air Force Base.
"When they told me the President of the United States was calling for me, I was a little reluctant to pick up the phone. It was my lunch break, and if you don't get in line at least an hour early, the only prime rib they have left is medium well."
Major Beasley eventually took the call while sipping a White Russian and sunning himself at the base relaxation pool in-between missions.
Beasley's wife and family have also released a statement saying how proud they were, and how they had eventually forgiven him for missing family Scrabble night during the fighting.
"Most people think of drone pilots as glorified computer junkies, but we're really modern-day snipers," Major Beasley told Duffel Blog. "We're out there, days at a time, watching the same compound, with nothing but candy bars from the vending machine to keep us going and the sounds of Sons of Anarchy playing on our iPhones."
The Air Force is already trumpeting Major Beasley as a modern-day Carlos Hathcock, the legendary Marine sniper with 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam. Air Force officials have pointed out that Major Beasley's 193 confirmed kills during the operation arguably make him one of the greatest marksmen in history. There are already plans to use him in recruiting commercials, similar to the Israeli Defence Force's public parades for missile ace Idan Yahya.
"Air warfare sure has changed," Major Beasley observed. "Even just a few years ago I could still fly my F-16 over Iraq, monitoring the same compound for hours at a time, eventually directing a laser-guided bomb on it... not like today."