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Name (Last, First Middle)Sills, James A.
Branch at time of eventUSAF
RankLieutenant Colonel
SquadronCS 24
Home TownFt. Lauderdale
Home StateFL
High SchoolNova High School, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
High School ActivitiesBoy Scouts, InteractClub,Basketball(4)
Post High SchoolUSFA Airman 1stClass (11 months) USAFA Prepatory School 1969
Academy ExperiencesBasketball,Dean's List(3)
Academic Degree MajorBS SciUnspec USAFA 1974 MS Aero-EmbryRiddleUniv Mar,1984 MBA-EmbryRiddleUniv Dec,1984 SOS(C) 1983 ACSC(S) 1984
Active Duty Assignments74: HeliTng FtRucker; 75: Plt 71AR&RSqElmendorfAFB; 81: PltCH-3E/DirOpnsDet15- 39AR&RSq PatrickAFB; 85: Plt/CPlans&Tac 39AR&RWg/C Plans&Tac39SpecOpnsWg EglinAFB; 88: Dir AirRescueServices HqMAC ScottAFB; 92: Cmdr 56RescueSq; 94: DeputyIG AFDTC EglinAFB; 95: DeputySptGpCmdr/SptGpCmdrEglinAFB; 96: DeputyCmdr 18FLTSHurlburtFld; 98: Commander 18FLTS Air Force Special Operations Command Hurlburt Field FL;
Civilian PositionsDirector of Maintenance Legendary,Iinc. Destin
Award Year1994
Award Summary InformationLt. Col. James A. Sills, U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 1974, is the winner of the L994 Jabara Award for Airrnanship for outstanding achievement during aerial flight Jan. 10-11, 1994. The mission involved leading a flight of two HH-50C rescue helicopters across the entire southern coast of Iceland, a 700 nautical mile round trip, in heavy snow storms, icing conditions, and extreme turbulence to save six Icelandic seamen stranded when their ship, the merchant vessel GODINN, floundered in heavy seas and strong winds. Despite ceilings as low as 50 feet and visibility down to zero with driving rain, sleet and snow, Colonel Sil1s and the crew of the second helicopter successfully located the ship just as the last glimmer of daylight faded. The six seamen were rescued as 30 to 4O-foot breakers driven by 60-knot winds smashed over the fragile remains of the ship, sending huge fountains of spray 100 feet in the air. During the rescue operation, Colonel Sills had no references for hovering and had to rely solely on verbal directions from his engineer to maintain a constant position. Heading for the nearest medical facility with two of the six seamen gravely injured' the horrendous snowstorms coupled with extreme darkness forced both helicopters to make a forced landing in a precariously small parking lot of a coastal village. Following a precision touchdown amid the light poles and wires, both sailors were rushed to the local hospital and their lives were saved. While returning to Keflavik Naval Air Station after the rescues, Colonel Sills diverted hj-s aircraft into a small farming village to medevac a critically ill Icelandic citizen to a hospital in the capital city of Reykjavik, saving his life . Colonel Sills, his crew, and the crew of the second rescue helicopter were credited with a total of seven "saves" during this dramatic two-day rescue effort.
Involved Crew Members
Burial Site/DateN/A
Aeronautical Speciality RatingCommand Pilot
Notable Military and Civilian Decorations & AwardsMSM(5),AM(4),AFCM(7) Jabara Award Mackay Trophy
CommentsRetired USAF Colonel 2007
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