DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The Air Force Global Strike Command commander presented a Distinguished Flying Cross July 13 at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, to each of the B-1B Lancer aircrew members who experienced an in-flight emergency in May.
Gen. Robin Rand, AFGSC commander, presented Distinguished Flying Cross medals to Maj. Christopher N. Duhon, Air Forces Strategic - Operations Division chief of future operations at, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and an instructor pilot with duties at the 28th Bomb Squadron; Capt. Matthew Sutton, 28th BS weapons system officer instructor; 1st Lt. Joseph Welch, 28 BS student pilot; and 1st Lt. Thomas C. Ahearn, then 28 BS student weapons system officer who has since completed training and is currently assigned to the 37 BS, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
“Our background is rooted and grounded in blood, sweat and tears. All of us who wear uniforms, we don’t have to look very far to find heroes who have been in our past,” said Rand. “It’s our heritage; it’s where we came from.”
Rand and Dyess Airmen, in a theater filled to capacity, honored the four heroes who remained dedicated to one another throughout the incident and ended with all crewmembers landing unharmed.
“Thank you for showing us how to be extraordinary. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. I have never been prouder to wear this uniform than I am today because of you four,” said Rand, addressing the four Airmen who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.
During a routine training flight May 1, the B-1 indicated fire warnings in three areas of the aircraft. With fire visually confirmed by the aircrew, they took appropriate flight procedures to extinguish the flames. One fire indicator light remained, which prompted the aircraft commander to heed technical orders
Despite auditory warning systems and depressurization, the aircrew safely landed at the Midland International Air and Space Port in Midland, Texas. This was the first-ever successful landing of a B-1B experiencing these malfunctions.
"I am extremely proud of these four individuals who exemplified excellence in an uncertain and potentially fatal situation,” said Col. Brandon Parker, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “It's humbling for me as a leader to be reminded of the caliber of Airmen with whom I have the privilege to serve. These accomplishments reflect the very best of who we are as a nation and service."
“It was their training and skill that led them through the actions to get the plane safely landed on the ground, but it was their bravery that ensured they got through the situation together,” Parker added.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded by the Department of the Air Force for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. Both heroism and achievement must be entirely distinctive, involving operations that are not routine.