My 2nd Distinguished Flying Cross

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

Lt Col Daren Sorenson was the flight lead of a flight of two F-15Es, callsign Dude 05, providing Close Air Support (CAS) in support of Coalition Forces, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan on 25 May 2011. On that day, Dude 05 flight had just completed kinetic support of a Troops in Contact (TIC) situation in the Konor province when they were retasked to support a second TIC 60nm west in the Nuristan province. Approximately 50 dismounted friendly forces were on patrol in the remote mountain district center of Do Ab when they were ambushed from all directions from enemy fighting positions on extremely steep valley walls rising over 6,000 feet above them. Enroute to the new tasking, due to his formation’s already low fuel state, Lt Col Sorenson coordinated an ad-hoc refueling plan directly above the ongoing fight to eliminate any breaks in support to the troops below. Within minutes of taking over the stack from the outgoing fighters, it was clear to Lt Col Sorenson the dire situation on the ground and the likely prolonged battle that was about to ensue. He immediately took control of one of the jet’s radios, coordinated with Army Apache helicopters, manned and unmanned ISR platforms, contacted the ASOC and his squadron operations desk where he gave them a situation update and led turn requests for additional CAS assets to include the likely need to launch ground alert CAS fighters. He then directed his wingman to begin “Yo-Yo” refueling operations with the tanker orbiting overhead, minimizing the time to refuel by 50% and allowing both jets to be back on station with over two hours of playtime. Within minutes of returning from the tanker, friendly forces began taking effective fire again from all directions far above them up from both sides of the steep valley walls. The JTACs were initially unable to determine the exact location of the enemy, so Lt Col Sorenson immediately recommended conducting a Show of Force (SOF) to cause the enemy to break contact. Knowing he was about to put his aircraft at risk of small arms and RPG fire, he directed his WSO to conduct visual scans of the ridgelines as they descended into the deep canyon. He expertly navigated the narrow, deep canyon at an incredibly low altitude of just 500 feet AGL. The SOF caused the enemy to break contact for approximately 20 minutes, during which time the JTAC seized the opportunity to eliminate a cave complex the enemy had fled to for shelter and was also a suspected weapons cache. Lt Col Sorenson expertly analyzed the cave, which was against the base of a steep canyon wall and could only be targeted from a narrow attack azimuth, plus or minus 10 degrees, or else the attack would be non-effective. The steep walls obscured the target from any look down angle less than sixty degrees. He determined the optimum weapons combination required to neutralize the cave complex as well as enemy personnel in the open just outside the cave. With only a single 2,000 pound GBU-31 weapon remaining, Lt Col Sorenson developed a non-standard attack putting his young wingman out in front to deliver the first weapon against the cave while he delivered two air burst GBU-38s against the personnel in the open outside the cave. Within just two minutes of receiving the 9-line, Lt Col Sorenson flawlessly orchestrated the formation attack and all weapons impacted exactly as designed, with multiple enemy KIA and the cave burning from within. Enemy fire then erupted again from all directions and Lt Col Sorenson recommended another SOF. Within 20 seconds of receiving approval, he conducted two more SOFs. The JTAC attested, “I personally observed Dude 05 do multiple SoFs that directly exposed them to the same intense fire we were receiving. Dude 05 literally weaved his aircraft directly over the heads of the insurgents allowing me time to prepare another 9-line as well as giving the Army guys a chance to reposition and take precise aim at our attackers.” As the last SOF was being completed, Dude 05 could hear the sense of urgency in the JTACs voice and the sound of automatic weapons fire over the radio. Lt Col Sorenson selected full afterburner to expedite his climb back to altitude while simultaneously communicating the next attack plan with his formation. Due to his expert leadership, the formation was ready to employ again in less than two minutes. However, just as they were preparing to drop, Dude 06 had a communication limitation that prevented them from employing their weapon. Lt Col Sorenson immediately orchestrated a successful single ship attack in less than one minute. Furthermore, in the incredibly short span of the next 10 minutes, Lt Col Sorenson flawlessly maneuvered his fighter in continuous full afterburner to employ on three additional 9 line taskings, averaging just over 3 minutes per tasking until they had delivered all of their ordnance. He then passed the tactical lead to Dude 06 to employ their remaining ordinance, while he maneuvered his jet into a difficult low altitude orbit beneath an encroaching weather deck and directly over the heads of friendly forces, to relay critical release clearance from the JTAC to his wingman. Dude 06 delivered his last weapon just as he reached his combat BINGO fuel, utilizing every gallon of additional gas that Lt Col Sorenson had the foresight to coordinate for more than two hours earlier, and shacking the last known enemy fighting position and ceasing the extremely effective fire the friendly forces were taking. All 14 weapons from the formation were employed with 100% lethal precision with zero civilian or friendly casualties. Post fight Battle Damage Assessments conducted by ground forces assessed approximately 68 insurgents killed and countless more wounded. The outstanding flight leadership and individual accomplishments of Lt Col Sorenson directly and substantially contributed to the preservation of over 50 Coalition lives and significantly degraded insurgent capacity in the Nuristan provinces. The JTAC summed it up best, “We would not be here if it were not for you guys…you saved our lives.”


  1. Craig Scott says:

    Awesome job, Colonel!!! Thank you for your distinguished service and congratulations on the DFC!!

  2. Johnd13 says:

    Great article post.Really thank you! Fantastic. eafdbdddkegd

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