Five 315th Airlift Wing Reserve Citizen Airmen were among the 51 Distinguished Flying Crosses awarded by U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, for their actions in Operation Allies Refuge, during a ceremony at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, Nov. 21, 2022.
The DFC ceremony was the largest of its kind in decades, and significant to the 701st Airlift Squadron Airmen was their role in the birth of a baby girl during one of the
evacuation missions and having Lt. Gen. John Healy, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander Air Force Reserve Command, present at the ceremony.
According to Healy, emotional and professional maturity are the exceptional traits for Reserve Citizen Airmen to be ‘Ready Now’ and ‘Transforming to the Future.’
“Emotional and professional maturity are key for our Airmen to be able to interact together and carry out our missions regardless of any limitations,” said Healy.
“Ready now is meaning today," he continued. “You could transpose today, right now, all the way back to when they got that call and we had four crews moving within 24 hours. They are Reserve Citizen Airmen standing up saying this is my job, I want to do this, I want to go help, and that’s only possible because our Reserve Airmen are ready to fight and carry out the National Defense Strategy and get to the defense of the United States.”
Col. John Robinson, 315 AW commander, was in attendance and said he is proud of the Airmen who received the DFC.
“We are proud of you, congratulations, you do a great job every day and you got recognized for your efforts,” said Robinson.
“A crew of many went in and out of the evacuation area, they exercised their skills professionally and with expertise they rescued people,” he continued. “They brought hope to people halfway around the world.
Lt. Gen. John Healy, chief of Air Force Reserve and commander Air Force Reserve Command
Emotional and professional maturity are key for our Airmen to be able to interact together and carry out our missions regardless of any limitations.
I always say that’s what the American flag on our tail does, it delivers hope when they see our flag pull into an airport nearby. For the people who need it, America brings comfort… and for the people who need it, America can bring war. That’s the beauty of our aircraft and crew members who fly them as they can bring both.”
Healy summed up his message by saying the biggest thing Reserve Citizen Airmen can do is to always represent the patch the best they can.
“To all of our Airmen here today, and all of our Airmen who participated in Operation Allies Refuge, you definitely made the Air Force Reserve Command patch proud,” he said.
Operation Allies Refuge was the largest non-combatant evacuation in American history. Each of the DFC recipients put themselves into harm’s way to evacuate tens of thousands of refugees in just 17 days.
The DFC, authorized by congress on July 2, 1926, is the fourth-highest award for extraordinary achievement and is the highest award for heroism while participating in aerial flight.