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News > Reservist awarded the Airman's Medal for off-duty heroism
Airman's Medal presentation
Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla, 10th Air Force commander, Air Force Reverve Command Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, presents the Airman's Medal to Lt. Col Richard L. Lowe, at a ceremony held at the base theater today. Colonel Lowe distinguished himself by heroism involving voluntary risk of life following the crash of Flight 1404 at Denver International Airport on Dec.20, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo/ By Don Lindsey)
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Reservist awarded the Airman's Medal for off-duty heroism

Posted 12/10/2010   Updated 12/14/2010 Email story   Print story


by Airman Alexis Siekert
502 Air Base Wing OL-B/PA

12/10/2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When a routine flight becomes unexpectedly turbulent most passengers will panic, thankfully those traveling on Continental Flight 1404 had a hero onboard.
On Dec. 20, 2008, Colonel Lowe helped to successfully evacuate the passengers and crew of Flight 1404 when the aircraft skidded off a runway while taking off from Denver International Airport. The plane burst into flames and crashed into a ditch. Colonel Lowe, a passenger on the flight, leapt into action and made several trips in and out of the wreckage to ensure everyone was safely out of the plane.

With humility, Lt. Col. Richard Lowe, 340th Reserve Flight Instructor, accepted the Airman's Medal at a ceremony in the base theater today.

Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla, 10th Air Force commander, presented the award. The general told the audience that Colonel Lowe was an ordinary guy, doing an extraordinary deed. He went on to say that the men and women of the Reserve " ... don't just settle for just enough, they are the best of the best."

"I'm humbled and honored that my peers would nominate me for this award," said the colonel. He credits his military training to "stay calm and slow down to go fast" for helping him save his life as well as others onboard.

The colonel said he could feel the sand running out of the hour glass and the hair stand up on the back of his neck on his last trip into the aircraft. It was only a few seconds after he exited for the final time that there was an explosion.

For his heroic actions, Colonel Lowe earned the Airman's Medal. The military decoration is awarded for "heroism not involving actual conflict with an armed enemy." It is the highest non-combat-related award in the Air Force.

Colonel Lowe also received a presidential citation from the Air Line Pilots Association for his actions on that day.

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