Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
FREE Admission & Parking

Chief Master Sergeant Duane Hackney Most Decorated Enlisted Airman

Born to Rescue   With over twenty-five years in service and more than seventy individual awards and decorations, CMSgt Duane Hackney is recognized as the most decorated enlisted Airman in Air Force history. Serving most of his career as a pararescueman, his legendary status began in Vietnam in 1966.

Chief Hackney flew over 200 combat search and rescue missions to locate downed pilots, experiencing injuries on several missions. Chief Hackney left Vietnam with twenty-eight combat awards for valor, and was the first living enlisted recipient of the Air Force Cross. 

The Air Force Cross   On February 6, 1967, Airman Second Class Hackney, flying in an unarmed HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter, was tasked to locate and rescue an O-1F pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam. On his second rescue attempt he found the pilot. Once he was aboard, the HH-3E was hit by a 37 mm anti-aircraft round.

Neglecting his own safety, Hackney removed his parachute and put it on the rescued pilot. While he reached for a spare chute, the helicopter was hit with another round and exploded. Hackney was blown from the helicopter just as he was putting on the chute. Right before hitting the trees, he was able to pull the ripcord, opening the chute. He was eventually rescued as the sole survivor of the mission.

Click here to return to the Enlisted Force Exhibit