SOG navigator captures award from international organization

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
A navigator assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group here was recently honored with the Institute of Navigation's 2008 Superior Achievement Award at the institute's International Technical Meeting.

Capt. Christopher Kapp, a MC-130H Combat Talon II navigator who flies with the 1st Special Operations Squadron and the group's assistant chief of standardization and evaluation, won the award for timely execution and precise navigation during operations supporting the Global War on Terror and standout performance in developing cutting edge joint aero-maritime rescue procedures. The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals making outstanding contributions to the advancement of navigation.

"It is truly an honor to accept this award from the Institute of Navigation, for it means that somehow I have stood-out in the company of the finest navigators," Captain Kapp said. "I owe a lot to the cutting-edge business of the Air Force Special Operations Command, where the science of navigation is often graded by mere seconds and yards off of the proverbial 'on time, on target.'"

During 2008, the captain's leadership pointed to two specifics events that helped separate the captain from his peers. Captain Kapps planned and navigated a time-sensitive mission in Afghanistan to airdrop coalition special operations forces on a small Taliban compound; and independently developed new techniques that allowed his crew to locate and intercept a ship approximately 750 nautical miles northeast of Guam, to perform an airdrop rescue mission.

"Capt Kapp's selection for this prestigious award is indicative of the superior caliber of individuals that find their way to AFSOC and are critical to the challenging mission of the MC-130H," said Lt. Col. Buck Haberichter, the 1st SOS commander. "We're proud of Chris and thrilled that his outstanding accomplishments have been recognized by the Institute."

While flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Captain Kapp's MC-130H Combat Talon II was redirected by higher headquarters to land at the nearest airfield, off-load current cargo, and standby for a new tasking. After the new orders came in, the navigator planned an in-flight refueling with a KC-135. The crew then landed at a remote mountainous dirt airstrip, exfiltrated 12 Australian Special Air Service combat operators, and performed a 10,000 foot, High Altitude/High Opening airdrop onto a small Taliban compound that led to the capture of eight high-value Taliban leaders. The planning and coordination for such an operation is usually done prior to the mission and sometimes days in advance.

Captain Kapp was also the lead planner for a rescue mission when two crew members aboard a merchant ship named the Occam's Razor sailing about 1,200 miles east of Okinawa and 500 miles north of Guam were injured in a crane accident and required immediate medical attention. In less than four hours, Captain Kapp independently developed new techniques that allowed the crew to locate and intercept the ship. His plan allowed the MC-130H alert crew to reach the ship in open seas within mere miles of its forecasted position only nine hours after receiving the distress call while having no communication with the vessel. Pararescuemen and equipment were airdropped, which resulted in saving the life of one injured crewman. Captain Kapp's tactics on the mission are being studied by AFSOC tacticians and will eventually be released to the entire special operations MC-130 community as common navigation practice concerning maritime rescue airdrops on the open seas.