US Honors Defense Contractor Killed by FARC in Colombia

US Honors Defense Contractor Killed by FARC in Colombia

By Dialogo
April 03, 2013

Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, presented the Defense of Freedom Medal to the family of Thomas Janis on March 27 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Janis was a U.S. defense-contracted pilot killed by narcoterrorists in the jungles of Colombia in 2003 after an in-flight emergency forced him to crash land a small aircraft during a routine aerial mission to detect cocaine crops over southern Colombia.

Janis was praised for the skillful crash landing in rugged jungle terrain that saved the lives of the four-person civilian crew and a Colombian Soldier. Janis and Colombian Army Sgt. Luis Alcides Cruz were later kidnapped and murdered by armed members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

Three other U.S. citizens who survived the crash landing: Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes were also kidnapped and held hostage by the FARC for more than five years before being rescued by Colombian forces in 2008.

Janis was a veteran Soldier with more than three decades of distinguished service, including tours in Vietnam, Korea, Panama and Germany.