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CSAF presents rescue pilots multiple medals in ceremony

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented two Distinguished Flying Cross medals with valor, each, to Col. Christopher Barnett and Maj. John Creel during a ceremony at the Pentagon May 18.

Both officers received the medals for two separate battles in Afghanistan. On April 4, 2009, Barnett and Creel flew their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter through multiple fire fights and a blinding sandstorm to save the lives of more than 40 Special Forces Soldiers and an Afghan National Army member near Kajaki, Afghanistan.

Several missions later, Barnett and Creel were faced with similar circumstances near Marjeh, Afghanistan, on May 19, 2009, when they flew into a Taliban stronghold three times to rescue injured Soldiers while also working with air controllers on the ground to eliminate enemy positions.

"These are amazing feats of service to our country," Schwartz said before presenting the four medals to Barnett and Creel.
Barnett attributed his recognition to the dedication of all the Airmen he worked with in Afghanistan.

"They were out there to support their fellow Soldiers, their fellow Airmen, their fellow Marines and Sailors," Barnett said.

When the squadron would receive word there were wounded requiring evacuation, Barnett said "everybody was moving to the helicopters. Everybody was going out there...to get those guys off the battlefield and to the hospital."

After receiving his medals, Creel said he felt his actions were not that special, since all service members perform similar acts every day.

"If you ever want to know what it takes to do something like this, just look around you," Creel said to the ceremony attendees. "Every person...who has worn the uniform before or is in the uniform now is capable of doing this. This is what we do."

Barnett was the commander of the expeditionary squadron he and Creel were deployed with, and he received the Bronze Star during the same ceremony for his leadership of the unit.

Article by Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Williams, Jr., Air Force Public Affairs Agency