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San Diego

A Navy Reserve pilot who steered his crippled jet fighter away from a populated residential area in Sorrento Valley before it crashed into a parking lot March 11 has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Cmdr. David G. Strong, a radar project engineer for Westinghouse Corp. in Baltimore, received the medal June 13 from Secretary of the Navy John Lehman.

The engine of Strong’s RF-8G Crusader failed right after he took off from Miramar Naval Air Station. Rather than ejecting immediately, he stayed with the plane, guiding it away from a residential area.

Strong ejected while about 100 feet above the ground and landed without injury. He then aided firefighters in extinguishing the blaze caused when the jet crashed into several parked cars.

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