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Eighteen Air Mobility Command Airmen recognized for heroic efforts during Operation Allies Refuge

  • Published
  • By Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
  • Air Mobility Command

Eighteen Airmen from Air Mobility Command were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bronze Star Medal for their actions in Operation Allies Refuge by U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, at Joint Base McGuire–Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Nov. 1, 2022.

“Their actions were performed at an immense personal risk and today these Airmen received their decorations, denoting their heroism beyond what is normally expected,” Minihan said. “You are now giants whose shoulders we stand on because you decided to act when called upon, putting your lives at risk so people you didn’t even know could have hope for a different life.”

Adding to the day’s significance, for the first time in AMC history, two aeromedical evacuation aircrew members, along with two flying crew chiefs, were among the recipients of the DFCs. The AE Airmen included Capt. Jedd Dillman, 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, and Master Sgt. Matthew Newman, 514th Aeromedical Staging Squadron respiratory therapist. Both received their DFCs with “C” device. The two flying crew chiefs recognized were Staff Sgt. Derek Laurent and Senior Airman Richard Johnson, 305th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, both received DFCs with “V” device.

During the ceremony, Minihan also presented eight Bronze Star Medals to contingency response Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing who rapidly repaired and ran airfield operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport while surrounded by hostile forces, enabling the success of OAR.

The aircrew of Reach 871 were presented the DFC with “V” device for the actions they took on Aug. 15, 2021. The crew successfully evacuated a record 823 civilians aboard a single C-17 Globemaster flight from HKIA as part of the largest non-combatant evacuation operation airlift in U.S. history.

“What these Airmen did in displaying heroism and selfless devotion to duty is the reason for today’s ceremony,” Minihan said. “The crew of Reach 871 changed the entire operation and proved that we could do more when it came to how many evacuees each C-17 could carry, by airlifting 823 souls to safety.”

The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is the fourth highest award for extraordinary aerial achievement and is awarded for heroism while participating in aerial flight.

The awards presented by Minihan on Nov. 1 are among 96 DFCs and 12 BSMs approved in a September awards board held by Air Forces Central Command.  Seven DFCs awarded at JBMDL were awarded with the “V” device for valor, and three DFC were presented with “C” device for combat. An additional 73 DFCs will be awarded with the “C” device.

The 621st Contingency Response Group will receive the prestigious Gallant Unit Citation.

The following Airmen were presented with awards by Minihan:


  • Lt. Col. Eric Kut, 6th Airlift Squadron C-17 instructor aircraft commander
  • Capt. Andrew Perrella, 6th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot
  • Capt. Jedd Dillman, 514th AES flight nurse
  • Capt. Cory Jackson, 6th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot
  • 1st Lt. Mark E. Lawson, 6th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot
  • Master Sgt. Matthew Newman, 514th ASTS respiratory therapist
  • Tech. Sgt. Justin L. Triola, 6th Airlift Squadron loadmaster (was not present at the ceremony on Nov. 1)
  • Staff Sgt. Derek R. Laurent, 305th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief
  • Senior Airman Richard Johnson, 305th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief
  • Senior Airman Nicholas A. Baron, 6th AS C-17 loadmaster


Bronze Star Medals

  • Col. Colin McClaskey, deputy commander of the 821st Contingency Response Group
  • Lt. Col. Joshua Johnson, commander of 621st Contingency Response Squadron
  • Maj. Michael Sattes, 621st Contingency Response Wing executive officer
  • Maj. Adam Cooper, 621st Air Mobility Operations Squadron Training flight commander
  • Master Sgt. Dustin Sanderlin, 621st Contingency Response Squadron QA superintendent
  • Master Sgt. Bryan Masters, 621st Contingency Response Squadron Plans and Programs flight chief
  • Master Sgt. Brian Cantu, 621st Contingency Response Squadron Security Forces flight chief
  • Tech. Sgt. Gabrielle Di Clementi, 621st Contingency Response Wing executive assistant to the command chief