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James awards medal upgrades to 8 Airmen

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The secretary of defense directed a review of medals, including the Air Force Cross and the Silver Star recommendations from recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, to ensure service members are appropriately recognized for their actions. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James approved nine medal upgrades for eight Airmen Jan. 17, 2017.

As part of the review process, two boards were held in May 2016 – the Air Force Cross Review Board and the Silver Star Review Board. The boards reviewed 147 award nominations, which consisted of 12 Air Force Crosses and 135 Silver Stars. James approved nine for upgrade.

"We recognize and celebrate our Airmen for their service, actions and sacrifices. It's who we are,” James said. “These are people whose lifestyle includes going above and beyond the call of duty and exemplifying the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. I’m so grateful that I have the privilege of approving all recommended upgrades and presenting two of these awards as one of my final acts as secretary of the Air Force.”

The Air Force Cross is given for extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations against an opposing foreign force. It is the highest Air Force award and directly follows the Medal of Honor in precedence.

The Silver Star medal is the third highest decoration for valor in combat and is typically awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy.

"For 70 years, Airmen have answered the call by flying, running, or moving to the sound of the guns," said Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff. "The Airmen we are honoring with these awards join a long blue line of warriors who studied, trained, and prepared so they were ready to answer the call when their 'moment' arrived. I could not be prouder of them and their families for their courage, sacrifice, and professionalism."

Awarded the Air Force Cross
Former Staff Sgt. Christopher Baradat (separated)
Retired Master Sgt. Keary Miller

Awarded the Silver Star
Col. Christopher Barnett (receiving two Silver Stars for two separate acts)
Retired Lt. Col. Gregory Thornton
Retired Lt. Col. Alan Botine
Retired Master Sgt. Kristopher Parker

Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor
Retired Col. David Kennedy (posthumous)
Lt. Col. James Holder