ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AP) -- Capping weeks of celebratory appearances since returning from China, the 24-member crew of the Navy surveillance plane that made a harrowing landing on a Chinese island was honored Friday with medals for extraordinary performance and courage.
Under gray skies, Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saluted and pinned the medals on each of the 24. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld looked on and spoke briefly with each.
The pilot, Lt. Shane Osborn, is credited with heroically regaining control of the EP-3E Aries II aircraft after it collided with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea and landing it safely.
For his efforts Osborn was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
"Lt. Osborn's dedicated efforts ultimately ensured the survival of 24 crewmembers and preserved a vital operational asset," his award citation read.
The others received the Air Medal for exceptional achievement.
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