May 17, 2017 (by SSgt. Jannelle McRae) - Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson presented the 2016 Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy to Maj. John Hourigan, a 123rd Operations Support Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot, at the Pentagon, May 17, 2017, for not only saving the lives of five crewmembers, but also identifying a worldwide C-130 propeller issue.
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson presents the Koren Kolligian Trophy to Maj. John Hourigan, a 123rd Operations Support Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot, during a ceremony in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. on May 17, 2017. [USAF Photo by Andy Morataya]
During a training sortie on July 15, 2016, Hourigan's aircraft began vibrating so badly that crewmembers were unable to communicate with each other through their headsets, read gauges or flight instruments. Hourigan quickly determined the source of vibration, implemented corrective action and executed an engine-out landing.
"The fact that the crew is here today is remarkable," said Wilson. "It took extraordinary skill, experience and dedication. This is a fantastic award for a remarkable aviator who well deserves this award."
Hourigan, who's assigned to the 123rd Operations Support Squadron, Kentucky National Guard, identified that one of the four propellers had become a speed brake while the aircraft was low to the ground at a high-bank angle.
"This was absolutely the first time I've ever been scared in the airplane," the guardsman continued.
During the ceremony, Hourigan took a moment to recognize his team and stated it takes a whole crew to bring a C-130 home safely.
"I have been fortunate to be a part of the Kentucky National Guard," he said.
The annual trophy was established in 1958 to memorialize 1st Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr., an Air Force pilot declared missing in the line of duty when his T-33 Shooting Star disappeared off the California coast on Sept. 14, 1955. The award recognizes aircrew members who, through extraordinary skill, exceptional alertness, ingenuity, or proficiency, averted accidents or minimized the seriousness of accidents in terms of injury, loss of life, aircraft damage or property damage.
Since the award's inception, the Kolligian family attends and sponsors the award presentation ceremony.
"For the 60th time, we are privileged to attend this ceremony and recognize the accomplishments of an outstanding pilot," said Koren Kolligian II, Lt. Kolligian's nephew. "Every year we meet remarkable pilots, spend time with them and their families, sharing stories and creating memories."
Koren Kolligian II admires the precision, pride and professionalism of Airmen
"What may have been another day in your life, we view as an act of heroism resulting from the Air Force's commitment, education and training and from your skill, composure and resiliency as a pilot," he said. "This award celebrates each of those values and qualities and it reminds us all what it takes to be a pilot in the United States Air Force."