2001 Superior Achievement Award

Presented to: Capt. Michael M. Ryder

Citation: For his efforts to keep the 7th Special Operations Squadron on the cutting edge of aerial navigation and for ensuring the ability of the United States to conduct its special operations missions throughout the world.


Capt. Michael M. Ryder is a 1991 Louisiana Tech University graduate and a distinguished graduate from the ROTC. Upon graduation from Specialized Undergraduate Navigator Training in 1993, he was assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., flying the MC-130E Combat Talon I. In 1999, Capt. Ryder was assigned to his current position at the 7th Special Operations Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, U.K., flying the MC-130H Combat Talon II, and is charged with maintaining the combat readiness of the 7th SOS. Capt. Ryder is a distinguished evaluator navigator, a recognized expert on mission planning and serves as deputy chief of standards and evaluations. He has combined his navigational expertise with his knowledge of computer technology to streamline and enhance flight-planning for the MC-1 30H Combat Talon 11, and has merged existing computer graphic programs to design new self-contained approaches for the squadron to use for landing on austere airfields in adverse weather in the former Republic of Yogoslavia. He has perfected the turning-path function of the aircraft mission computers to ensure positive mission-computer course guidance and terrain clearance during IMC operations at very low altitudes in extremely rugged mountains.

Capt. Ryder is a senior navigator with 3,165 flight hours, including 225 combat hours. He served with distinction in operations "Uphold Democracy," "Provide Promise," "Assured Response," "Southern Watch," and "Enduring Freedom." His military decorations include the Aerial Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.