Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CWO-5) Brian Michael Edwards of the 3-160 Special Operations Aviation Regiment of the U.S. Army, born August 14th 1972, operated as a helicopter pilot and flight lead in support of the Norwegian Navy Special Operations Command during an operation in Afghanistan on June 26th–27th 2019.
A ground unit of Norwegian soldiers, along with their Afghan partners, came under heavy fire during operations in Kabul province on the night of June 27th 2019. An emergency extraction was requested. Without hesitation, CWO-5 Edwards decided to land his helicopter in an unknown landing zone, knowing the site was too small for his aircraft and exposed to the enemy.
Furthermore, the unit he was to rescue exceeded payload limitations for the helicopter. Nevertheless, Edwards airlifted the unit into safety, with no loss of life or materiél. The mission was carried out in accordance with authorisation given and within the rules of engagement.
The statutes of St. Olav’s Medal with Oak Branch § 1 state the following:
«St. Olav’s Medal with Oak Branch may be awarded for personal achievement during combat or similar action to Norwegian or foreign civilians or military personnel who, in times of war or armed conflict, have excelled through personal bravery or through command of a ground unit, vessel or air force unit during combat.»
The Norwegian Ministry of Defence has assessed the achievements of CWO-5 Brian M. Edwards, and recommended that he be awarded St. Olav’s Medal with Oak Branch.
Assessment of the Norwegian Ministry of Defence:
The bravery, skill and judgement of CWO-5 Edwards most likely saved lives during operations in Afghanistan on June 26th-27th 2019. The professionalism and experience of CWO-5 Edwards, along with his strong determination to prevail, saved the Norwegian unit from loss of personnel and materiél.