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Crew that saved Martinez and others is feted

The crew of a C-130 Hercules plane that in August evaded surface-to-air rocket fire just 5 minutes out of Baghdad airport - saving Sens. Mel Martinez and others - was awarded Air Mobility Command's 2007 Field of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aviator Valor award, according to Air Force Link.

The award, the Air Force notes, "is given for a conspicuous act of courage or valor performed during aerial flight during either combat or noncombat."

The Air Force says the crew, led by Maj. Paul Pepe, was carrying Martinez, R-Fla., Sen.Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. and Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., when it came under fire.

The story says the crew began its "ascent out of the airport and reached an approximate altitude of 5,000 feet when 1st Lt. Robert Davidson, the navigator, spotted three separate but coordinated rockets fired at the aircraft.

Davidson directed the crew to perform immediate maneuvers to avoid the rockets and each of the members began executing the individual measures they were trained on," the story says. Martinez had credited the crew with taking immediate action to protect the flight. The group was headed to Jordan and the plane was not struck and no one was injured.

The crew is trained at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

Read the full account here.

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