DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Each year, Air Mobility Command accepts nominations for the General James H. Doolittle Trophy, which awards the most outstanding aircrew that best exemplifies and epitomizes the traits for which General Doolittle is famous for. The aircrew must show the utmost professionalism, courage, leadership and meritorious service.
In July 2016, three Dyess aircrew led a 3-ship formation of C-130J Super Hercules into a declared war zone in South Sudan to evacuate embassy personnel in support of Operation NEW NORMAL.
"Operation NEW NORMAL was established in the wake of the Benghazi events in Libya," said Maj. Sean Stumpf, 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander. "A contingent of Special Forces and Navy SEALs are put together in the hopes of activating this crew to prevent any future events in Libya. This crew can only be activated by the president for embassy evacuation and protection."
On July 2016, the aircrew and contingency response force comprised of Special Forces and Navy SEALs were activated by the president to evacuate members of the South Sudan U.S Embassy after the Ambassador requested aid from the president and the State Department, due to fighting around the embassy.
"The details of the overall mission and situation in South Sudan at the time were very limited," said Stumpf. "Initially, we were alerted off of our Bravo cycle the night before to go fly this mission. We basically had 12 hours to wrap our head around what was going on before we launched the next morning."
The next morning, the aircrew and contingency response force embarked on the mere eight-hour mission from Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti to South Sudan to Uganda.
"We had three aircraft fly to Sudan," said Stumpf. "Each aircraft had an element of the contingency response force. Once we got on the ground, it was then their job to go into the embassy, secure it and escort the convoy back to the aircrafts in order for us to be able to load the individuals up and fly them out."
All 29 personnel were successfully escorted from the embassy to the aircraft.
"When they came to the plane, you could clearly see they were distressed and tired," said Staff Sgt. James Hurst, 39thj Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "As they got closer, they became more relieved. Once they put their bags on the ground and sat down, they were feeling a lot more at ease."
The embassy personnel were then flown to a soverign area in Uganda. Uganda was one of the closest, safest locations to transport them to.
"Once we landed and everyone was on the buses, you could see everyone was happy to be out of there," said Hurst.
Stumpf explained Operation NEW NORMAL was activated in order to prevent similar events that happened in Benghazi and the successful completion of the mission validated its importance and purpose.
"Dealing with the embassy personnel was very somber because you know they just went through a lot," said Hurst. "In getting out of the embassy and to the airplane was tasking for them, but seeing that they were safe once they got to us was very satisfying."
As a result of their efforts, the aircrew was awarded the General James H. Doolittle Trophy by AMC for extremely meritorious service, professionalism, courage and leadership.
The following is all personnel recognized and awarded by AMC:
Maj. Sean W. Stumpf
Capt. Ryan P. Clyburn
Capt. Tyler J. Comte
Capt. Joseph W. Goetz
Capt. Mark G. King
Capt. Paul D. Lasorda
Capt. Dayton J. Miller
TSgt. Alan D. Colb
TSgt. Sean Moody
TSgt. Dennis Moore
SSgt. Joshua D. Desmarais
SSgt. Chase R. Seynaeve
SSgt. James D. Hurst
SSgt. John J. Soto
SrA Nicholas A. Henderson
SrA Dallas K. Pope