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President Trump just honored seven members of California’s National Guard with the Distinguished Flying Cross, a military decoration that recognizes heroism and extraordinary achievement.

“Just over one week ago, these brave pilots and crew members of the California Army National Guard embarked on a harrowing mission,” the President said this afternoon from McClellan Park, California. On the night of September 5 and into the morning of September 6, the National Guardsmen flew two helicopters to Mammoth Pool campground, where families had become stranded and surrounded by fire.

Despite limited visibility amid the heavy smoke, these men completed their mission over the course of 10 harrowing hours—returning three times to the campground and saving the lives of 242 people.

“Our Nation is strong because of remarkable individuals like these service members,” President Trump said. “In the midst of our greatest trials and biggest challenges, America prevails because of the brave and selfless patriots who risk everything.”

President Trump traveled to California today to meet with state officials and receive a briefing on the devastating wildfires. He approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the state in August, and his Administration continues to provide support for state and local officials via numerous Fire Management Assistance Grants and other forms of aid.

“We want to thank these incredible people—the first responders, service members”—who save lives while racing into “extreme peril,” President Trump said.

🎬 Watch President Trump tell the incredible story of these heroes

🎬 California Governor thanks President for fast response to wildfires