2018 (press release)


THE CREW OF DRACO 42 FLIGHT


As outlined in the United States Air Force nomination, the crew of Draco 42 distinguished themselves as a U-28A crew, 319th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component-Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as the Tactical Air Controller-Airborne for a joint, interagency, time-sensitive mission on August 14, 2018. Despite multiple rounds of indirect fire impacting near the aircraft at their forward refueling location, Draco 42 continued to coordinate rapidly evolving target and concept of operation changes with geographically separated air and ground assets. Once airborne, Draco 42 managed the highly complex operation of simultaneous helicopter infiltrations to time-sensitive targets in urban areas that yielded valuable intelligence on a top-level Al Qaeda leader and four enemy killed in action. The professional ability and outstanding aerial accomplishments of the crew of Draco 42 reflect great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.


2017 (press release)


THE CREW OF BOAR 51 FLIGHT


As outlined in the United States Air Force nomination, the crew of Boar 51 distinguished themselves as two-ship A-10s, 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 447th Expeditionary Operations Group, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in support of OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE. On May 2, 2017, the crew of Boar 51 was re-tasked to support a troops-in-contact situation where 50 American and countless Syrian Democratic Forces were pinned down with heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades. Boar 51 flight expended 1,500 pounds of ordnance and 1,300, 30-millimeter rounds on 19 targets, often inside danger close criteria. For over five hours, Captain Harvey and Major Schultz overcame communications degradation, severe thunderstorms and near-zero visibility, ultimately saving the lives of friendly forces. The distinctive accomplishments of Captain Harvey and Major Schultz reflect great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.


2016 (press release)


THE CREW OF SPOOKY 43 FLIGHT


On November 2, 2016, the crew of SPOOKY 43 was tasked to provide close air support and armed reconnaissance for a 55-man combined American and Afghan special operations team conducting a raid to interdict insurgent command and control nodes, senior leadership, and their networks. After the crew of SPOOKY 43 arrived overhead, the combined American and Afghan special operations force (also referred to as “friendlies”) was caught in a deadly ambush by a large insurgent force. The friendlies were engaged by small arms, heavy machine gun, and grenade fire from multiple defensive fighting positions. The crew of SPOOKY 43 provided close air support to the friendly ground force with the 25, 40, and 105-millimeter guns, to allow the them the freedom to maneuver and provide care for casualties. In order to protect the ground team from enemy personnel, the crew of SPOOKY 43 expertly employed the 105-millimeter gun at an unprecedented 12 meters from the friendly personnel. Due to the outstanding airmanship and bravery under extremely challenging circumstances, SPOOKY 43 destroyed 10 defensive fighting positions, 27 enemy insurgents, and three enemy technical vehicles, saving the lives of 50 combined American and Afghan special operations forces personnel who would have otherwise perished in the enemy ambush. The professional ability and outstanding aerial accomplishments of the crew of SPOOKY 43 reflect credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.


2015 (press release)


THE CREWS OF WEASEL 41 AND WEASEL 51 FLIGHT


On July 26, 2015, United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Cohen, Major Seth Taylor, Captain Danielle Kangas, and Captain Mathew Park, arrived on scene over Hassekah, a major city in northeast Syria, where friendly Syrian Kurdish ground units were battling the last significant holdout of a group of Islamic State enemy personnel. A firefight in the southeast portion of the city had erupted, pinning Kurdish ground units in a dense urban city block. Overcoming targeting complicated by weather and limited communications, Lieutenant Colonel Cohen and Major Taylor expertly coordinated and employed several successful munitions in support of Kurdish forces despite highly restrictive attack parameters. Captain Kangas and Captain Park tracked and executed an effective attack on fleeing enemy soldiers wearing blankets to reduce their infrared signature. In a four-hour period, the crews of WEASEL 41 and WEASEL 51 flight employed 15 precision guided munitions, destroying eight enemy fighting positions, with no friendly or civilian casualties. This marked the end of a three-month operation in Northern Syria that resulted in friendly Kurdish forces retaking over 17 thousand square kilometers of territory, securing the Syria/Turkey boarder between Iraq and the Euphrates River.


2014 (press release)


THE CREW OF IRONHAND 41 FLIGHT


Captain Gregory R. Balzhiser and Captain David A. Kroontje, the aircrew of the Pacific Air Forces` Ironhand 41 flight, orchestrated four flawless attacks during an eight hour night, flying F-16Cs over 500 miles in enemy-controlled terrain. Their attacks destroyed three Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) blockades, multiple armored vehicles, one observation post, and killed ISIL fighters who were firing upon 40,000 trapped Yazidi civilians who had fled to Mount Sinjar. Their outstanding battle management caused the cessation of ISIL indirect fires on civilians, ended ISIL freedom of movement around Mount Sinjar, facilitated the evacuation corridor by reducing pressure on Peshmerga ground forces, and ultimately saved the lives of 40,000 civilians including women, children, elderly, and the infirm.


2013 (press release)


THE CREWS OF ROOSTER 73 FLIGHT


The crews of Rooster 73 flight (Rooster 73, Rooster 74, and Rooster 75) distinguished themselves as CV-22 Pilots and Flight Engineers, 8th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron, on 21 December 2013 while conducting the most meritorious flight of the year in support of Noncombatant Evacuation Operations in the vicinity of Bor, South Sudan. The formation of three CV-22 Ospreys was tasked with the daylight evacuation of American Citizens due to escalating threats. On approach to land, the formation took heavy surface to air fire, receiving damage to multiple aircraft systems and injuring four Special Operations Forces personnel onboard. The extensive damage caused multiple fuel leaks requiring the aircraft to call for emergency airborne refueling allowing for the safe recovery of all three battle damaged aircraft, crew and passengers. The distinctive accomplishments of Rooster 73 flight reflect great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.


Crew Members of Rooster 73


Major Ryan P. Mittelstet


Captain Brett J. Cassidy


Technical Sergeant David A. Shea


Staff Sergeant Christopher Nin


Crew Members of Rooster 74


Captain William J. Mendel


Captain Arjun U. Rau


Staff Sergeant James M. McKay


Staff Sergeant Kenneth E. Zupkow II


Crew Members of Rooster 75


Major B. Taylor Fingarson


Captain Daniel J. Denney


Master Sergeant Alberto L. Delgado


Master Sergeant Jeremy D. Hoye


Technical Sergeant Daniel Warren


Technical Sergeant Jason Broline


Senior Airman Lee Von Hackprestinary


2012 (press release) (photo album)


THE CREWS OF PEDRO 83 FLIGHT


The members of Pedro 83 Flight distinguished themselves as United States Air Force Combat Search and Rescue aircrew during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM from 1 November 2011 to 8 February 2012. In January 2012, Pedro 83 Flight, a formation of HH-60G Pavehawks, launched in response to an urgent MEDEVAC near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. The flight navigated through visibility as low as two miles to reach the patient. There, Pedro 84 executed a hoist over hostile terrain to infiltrate Pararescumen and provide life-saving care to the wounded soldier. The actions of Pedro 83 Flight saved the patient’s life and directly supported on-going assault operations resulting in eight enemy killed in action and 35 captured. The distinctive accomplishments of the crews of Pedro 83 Flight reflect great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.


HH-60 Crews of Pedro 83 and Pedro 84


Captain Vincent B. Powell, USAF


Captain Thomas R. Stengl, USAF


Captain Brion P. Stroud, USAF


First Lieutenant Paul A. Fry, USAF


Chief Master Sergeant Norman S. Callahan, USAF


Technical Sergeant John G. Ballard, USAF


Staff Sergeant Lucas G. Ferrari, USAF


Staff Sergeant Mahonri R. Gibson, USAF


Staff Sergeant Thomas A. Hervert, USAF


Technical Sergeant Cameron J. Hystad, USAF


Staff Sergeant William A. Mathis, USAF


Senior Airman Brian D. Ayers, USAF


Senior Airman Jordan J. Dehlbom, USAF


2011 (press release) (photo album)


THE CREWS OF PEDRO 83 FLIGHT


The crews of Pedro 83 flight who distinguished themselves in combat search and rescue operations on April 23, 2011 while assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. On this date, Pedro 83 Flight executed the daring rescue of two United States Army pilots downed in enemy-controlled territory east of Bagram during infiltration, Pedro 84 was struck by enemy fire, severely injuring the flight engineer. As Pedro 84 returned to base for medical treatment Pedro 83 provided emergency close air support for pararescuemen on the ground, ultimately braving a hail of small arms fire to rescue a downed pilot. While low on fuel, damaged by enemy fire and battling multiple aircraft emergencies, Pedro 83 remained on scene until Pedro 84 returned with a reconstituted crew. Pedro 84 made two attempts to recover the second pilot and their isolated pararescueman team, who were surrounded by insurgents, but was repelled by heavy enemy fire. Although Pedro 84 had been hit more than ten times and two crewmembers received damage to their protective equipment, they remained overhead until Pedro 83 returned. Pedro 83 flight made three approaches into the besieged landing zone, but was forced to go around after exchanging fire with a fortified enemy within 100 meters. On the fourth attempt, Pedro 83 was able to land and evacuate an Army soldier critically wounded during ground recovery attempts while Pedro 84 hoisted the second pilot and pararescueman team successfully ending six hours of intense coalition rescue operations. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of the crews of Pedro 83 Flight reflect great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.


Crew Members of Pedro 83


Captain Joshua Hallada (Flight Lead)


First Lieutenant Elliott Milliken (Co-Pilot)


Senior Airman Michael Price (Flight Engineer)


Senior Airman Justin Tite (Aerial Gunner)


Crew Members of Pedro 84


Major Philip Bryant (Mission Pilot)


Captain Louis Nolting


Technical Sergeant James Davis


Technical Sergeant Heath Culbertson


Technical Sergeant William Gonzalez


Crew Members of Guardian Angel Team


Major Jesse Peterson (Guardian Angel Team Commander)


First Lieutenant Aaron Hunter (Combat Rescue Officer)


Master Sergeant Matthew Schrader (Pararescueman)


Technical Sergeant Joshua Vanderbrink


Technical Sergeant Christopher Uriarte


Technical Sergeant Shane Hargis


Staff Sergeant Jason Ruiz


Staff Sergeant Angel Santana


Staff Sergeant Nathan Greene


Staff Sergeant Zachary Kline


Staff Sergeant William Cenna


2010 (press release) (photo album)


DUDE FLIGHT (DUDE 01 and DUDE 02)


Lieutenant Colonel Donald D. Cornwell, Lieutenant Colonel Dylan T. Wells, Captain Leigh P. Larkin, and First Lieutenant Nicholas R. Tsougas distinguished themselves by meritorious airmanship on 6 April 2010. While operating as a flight of two F-15Es, callsigns Dude 01 and Dude 02, they were tasked to support a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force team surrounded by over 100 enemy fighters in the town of Bala Morgab, Afghanistan. With weather below rescue force launch minimums, Dude flight used Terrain Following Radar to execute five “Show of Force” passes in a valley surrounded by high terrain. When hostilities escalated, Dude Flight expertly employed six Joint Direct Attack Munitions, helping kill over 80 Taliban fighters who occupied reinforced positions within the town. Their efforts helped save the lives of approximately 30 coalition troops. There were no civilian causalities. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Dude Flight reflect great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.