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McChord reservists recognized for extraordinary achievement

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AMCNS) -- Two Air Force reservists here were presented medals for extraordinary achievement Jan. 11 for their heroic acts that resulted in saving lives and two $200 million aircraft.

Tech. Sgt. Eric Olson, a loadmaster with the 313th Airlift Squadron here, was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross for his participation in safely landing a C-17 after it was struck by enemy fire on departure from Baghdad International Airport Dec. 9, 2003. Olson expediently and skillfully executed emergency action checklists, tended to a wounded passenger, and calmly prepared other passengers for an emergency landing.

During a ceremony Dec. 22, 2003, Olson and other aircrew members were presented an Air Medal by Vice President Dick Cheney. The medal was upgraded.

Additionally, Tech. Sgt. Robert Withrow -- also a loadmaster with the 313th AS -- was presented the Airmen’s Medal for his quick response in extinguishing a fire that engulfed the landing gear of a C-17 upon landing at an airfield in Uzbekistan April 16, 2003.

Withrow saved the lives of six crew members when he, upon opening the entry door, saw the raging flames, notified the crew, and then went to action. He grabbed extinguishers in both hands, rushed beneath the aircraft and within one minute had the fire under control.

“I just did what any other loadmaster would’ve done,” said Withrow.

Both NCOs were mobilized to active duty Dec. 1 to continue to support the war on terrorism.

The medals were presented by Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan, 4th Air Force commander.