A very happy Independence Day to all of our readers and fellow citizens of the greatest country in the world. -BK 

Hog driver awarded Silver Star:

Air Force Capt. Gregory “Billy Bob” Thornton was flying over Iraq catching up on old times with a fellow A-10 jet pilot on the ground serving with a U.S. Army unit in Baghdad when the conversation abruptly changed.

He comes back on the radio and he says, ‘We’re taking direct enemy fire. We need you in here now.’ And it went from kind of catching up with one of our buddies to now going in and protecting him because he’s under fire,” Thornton said.

It was April 6, 2003, just days after U.S. troops went into Baghdad during the Iraq war.

Nearby, fellow A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot Lt. Col. Raymond “Donk” Strasburger was flying in a second jet and would soon join Thornton in a fierce battle with Iraqi Republican Guard troops firing tank rounds at U.S. soldiers on the other side of the Tigris River.

Thornton, 47, will receive a Silver Star — the third highest medal for valor in the military – in a private ceremony today at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force for his effort to help thwart the assault against U.S. troops.”

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