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363d ISR Wing officer named ACC 2022 Colonel James Jabara Airmanship Award winner

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. AJ Hyatt
  • 363d Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
Air Combat Command recently named their winner of the 2022 Colonel James Jabara Airmanship Award and that winner hails from the 363d Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing.
The ACC winner of the Colonel James Jabara Airmanship Award is U.S. Air Force Capt. Gordon Lang, an assistant operations officer with 43d Intelligence Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.
This award recognizes Air Force Academy graduates with significant contributions to airmanship.  This includes distinguished accomplishments of aircrew members as well as exceptional contributions with respect to design, production, or testing of an aerospace vehicle or its subsystems.
Lang, who graduated from the AF Academy in 2012, assists his squadron’s director of operations with coordinating and ensuring the execution of day-to-day operations in the unit as well as manages long-term projects to create or improve squadron capabilities. As a SOF pilot, Lang also liaises between the 43 IS and its host wing at Cannon AFB, the 27th Special Operations Wing. In that capacity, he translates between special operations speak and intel speak as well as acts as a point of contact for questions either organization has about the other, smoothing and improving the relationship between the two.

“I’m absolutely floored. I don’t normally see my work as particularly high-impact; it’s just what I do every day, but I guess it’s easy to get used to your day-to-day and not appreciate how unique it really can be,” said Lang. “To have that work highlighted all the way up at ACC, I think is more a testament to all the Airmen and leaders that either gave me those opportunities or worked so hard to finish what we’re working on.”
One of Lang’s notable accomplishments came during his deployment to Iraq.
According to his award package, Lang was deployed as a U-28A Chief Pilot in January 2020. On the night of January 7, 2020, he was the only U-28A officer in his unit’s operations room when he received a phone call directing a whole-Task Force evacuation of his deployed base in advance of what would be an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Theater Ballistic Missile attack. Without waiting for further direction or for higher leadership to arrive, Lang immediately took action. Contacting the airborne U-28As, he directed them to divert to an identified friendly airfield. He then interrupted the mission briefing of an additional U-28A crew, briefing them on the situation. Two members of that crew he ordered to wake up and notify each member of the compound, non-U-28A crews included, and instruct each one to pack a bag and meet at an evacuation point. He then set the third crewmember to work planning for contingency evacuation airlift aboard a U-28A, and the fourth crewmember was given the responsibility of informing and coordinating with maintenance personnel for a rapid launch of the remaining U-28As.
Once the squadron commander arrived to continue with Lang’s plan, he shifted to more detailed work. Making phone calls to the divert airfield, Lang ensured the diverting U-28A crews would have a place to park their aircraft, a ride from the flight line, and a place to sleep. He also informed the other Task Force units in his area of the situation, enabling them to get ahead of the evacuation order as well. As the final U-28A was preparing to leave the airfield and on his own initiative, Lang coordinated to add two maintenance personnel and their equipment to the already fully mission loaded aircraft. This would enable the diverted U-28As to continue operational missions, regardless of the status of the rest of their home base or location of other crews. Prior to this final crew departing, Lang made sure they were aware of the effects of their unique configuration and how to safely mitigate their negative aspects.
Once all U-28As had departed, he focused on the organization, accountability, and eventual evacuation of all U-28A crews and maintenance personnel. As a part of the whole, Lang’s actions that night were crucial to the quick and effective diversion of U-28A operations to a new location and the evacuation of those left behind. Three aircraft and more than 50 aircrew and maintenance personnel were moved out from under a guided missile attack with no unit casualties, in an area of the base that saw significant destruction.
“I wasn’t the commander on that deployment, I just happened to be alone in the operations room when I got the phone call,” Lang said. “I’m very proud of how I handled myself that night; it’s one of those pressure situations that you can’t know how you’ll react until you’re put in it, and I found myself able to make decisions in the absence of formal leadership.”
Lang, who has been deployed for more than 20 months of his career, has often reached back to the TBM attack for leadership perspective and guidance when he’s unsure of himself.
His wife and first child [who is due in June], getting to vacation in obscure locations and having the opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives have been motivators for Lang.

“Capt. Lang has set himself far beyond his peers due to sustained performance in 2020-2021 with feats both in the air as a U-28 Instructor Pilot and on the ground as acting Operations Officer,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Eric Mack, 363d ISRW commander.

Lang will now compete at the Air Force level.