Four airmen flying a C-17A Globemaster III came into Afghanistan on the night of Aug. 15, 2021, initially with the mission of transporting the 82nd Airborne Division to Kabul in order to secure Hamid Karzai International Airport. However, their mission quickly turned into an evacuation when Afghanistan was captured by the Taliban on the same day.
It was their role in evacuating Americans and allies from Kabul that earned them the Distinguished Flying Cross. Particularly, one airman assigned to the 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and three Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base in California were presented with the award on April 1 in Travis AFB, according to the 349th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs.
As per the Wing’s release about the ceremony, the Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to “any officer or enlisted member of the US Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves in combat in support of operations through heroism or extraordinary achievement in combat aviation.” A notable recipient of the award is Amelia Earhart, who was the very first civilian to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The ceremony involved presenting the medals to 301st Airlift Squadron airmen Lt. Col. Dominic Calderon, 1st Lt. Kyle Anderson and Master Sgt. Silva Foster, and Senior Airman Michael Geller from the 517th Airlift Squadron. The awards were presented by US Air Force Maj. Gen. Matthew J. Burger, deputy commander of the Air Force Reserve Command at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. The ceremony also recognized the efforts of S.C. Gonzales-Furman who served as the crew chief of the 4 airmen in Afghanistan, as well as Staff Sgt. Dennis Gonzales-Furman from the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Charleston.