Capt. Marcus Maris, 512th Rescue Squadron, was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Col. James Cardoso, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, during a ceremony here April 20, 2012. Maris received the medal for flying a high-risk mass-casualty evacuation mission in Afghanistan in 2010. The medal is awarded to servicemembers who distinguish themselves by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight in support of operations. (Photo by Todd Berenger)
Capt. Christopher Palmer, 512th Rescue Squadron, was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Col. James Cardoso, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, during a ceremony here April 20, 2012. Palmer received the medal for flying two mass-casualty evacuation missions in Afghanistan in 2010. The medal is awarded to servicemembers who distinguish themselves by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight in support of operations. (Photo by Todd Berenger)
by Stefan Bocchino
377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
4/24/2012 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Capt. Christopher Palmer, 512th Rescue Squadron, chief of standardization and evaluation, and Capt. Marcus Maris, 512 RQS, student flight commander, were presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Col. James Cardoso, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, during a Warrior Call on April 20 at Kirtland Air Force Base.
Both officers were recognized for actions while deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Both Airmen piloted the HH-60G Pave Hawk while there. The operations cited occurred while they were both deployed to a forward operating base in November 2010.
Maris distinguished himself during a mass-casualty evacuation mission in Watapur Valley, Afghanistan, on November 14, 2010. As the pilot of an HH-60G Pave Hawk, he flew in extreme mountainous terrain and performed a precision hover and hoist while under enemy fire. During this maneuver, three pararescuemen were lowered to the ground. After that he departed to rejoin his wingman in a defensive pattern overhead.
Once the casualties were ready for evacuation, Maris and his crew returned to the landing zone to evacuate 11 casualties and bring in medical supplies.
"It was a great honor getting the DFC," said Maris. "I felt a little emotional on stage, reliving the mission. It brought back memories from flying that day. We did what needed to be done to help those people on the ground. This is a win for the rescue community. It lets everyone know what combat search and rescue is all about."
Maris said that the HH-60G had a crew of four for that mission and also carried three pararescuemen. He said they worked through the night to get all the casualties out.
Palmer took part in two mass-casualty evacuation missions. He flew one on Nov. 12 and then was part of the same mission Maris was on Nov. 14. While on the first mission a crew member was wounded and the primary flight controls were damaged. After bringing the wounded crew member back to base and despite the aircraft's degraded capabilities, Palmer and his crew returned to the landing zone to continue their mission. During the second mission, he engaged the enemy to provide cover for the other aircraft while it was lowering the pararescuemen. His fire suppression allowed for vital medical supplies and care to be provided to those injured on the ground and then their evacuation.
"It's an incredible honor to get recognized for something that such a large community does," said Palmer. "To get singled out for something like that is nice. We did a lot of good work down there and brought a lot of people home, which is what really matters."
Both officers will help train the next generation of rescue pilots and both are in line to be promoted to major.
"I could not be more proud," said Lt. Col. John Galik, 512 RQS commander. "It's an incredible job that they do. Words can't describe how it feels. They are both outstanding officers and both have an outstanding future in the Air Force. They will both bring that experience back and teach our young students coming in."
4/30/2012 4:52:52 PM ET AirGunner if you're so passionate why don't you submit with your real name
Donald Miller, Colorado Springs CO
4/26/2012 1:06:17 PM ET A REAL officer would have insisted on all his enlisted crewmembers getting the same DFC. Pretty sad commentary on the state of today's AF leadership. Congrats to the recipients in any event.
4/25/2012 7:25:33 PM ET To all posters, the rest of the crew was recognized for their actions as well at their homestation. As an instructor aerial gunner here at the 512th RQS, I personally work with both of the Captains here at the schoolhouse and I have deployed with both of them in previous assingments. They were awarded their DFC's here, not the unit they just PCS'd from. I'm a huge fan of pin them where you win them, but sometimes that can't happen due to unforseen circumstances. I humbly suggest all of you take the time to find out all the facts before pontificating about percieved injustices or inequaties.
4/25/2012 3:36:15 PM ET First let me congratulate the two Captains for performing so well in the eyes of adversity. My comment is this - what about the rest of the crew. It takes the entire flight crew to make any mission a success. Why did the rest of the crew not receive the nod for the same DFC I flew as a Flight Engineer for 26 years logging over 10000 flight hours and every single mission required every member of the flight crew to perform their job to make it a success - all parties involved need to be recognized in turn.Tim
SMSgt ret Tim ODonnell, Tucson AZ
4/25/2012 1:02:31 PM ET I must thank these brave pilots and the other members of the helo crews to include MSgt Roger Sparks and the other PJs. My Son Army Specialist Jesse Adam Snow was KIA on 14 Nov 2010 on that mountain while saving the lives of 3 men. If the helos had not shown up my guess is that my son may not have made it home to be layed to rest since they were in danger of being overrun. God Bless these men for what they did for the Snow Family ensuring Jesse made it home. My heart is broken on the loss of Jesse and his 101st Screaming Eagles but I'm so proud of the men in the air and the enlisted that maintained those 60s. Congrats and a Since Heartfelt Thank You---John SnowCMSgt USAF Retired
John W. Snow, Wright Patterson AFB
4/25/2012 11:21:28 AM ET Interesting timing. Just read an article on an Army Dustoff crew that were awarded DFC's to include the enlisted crew members. Hopefully the enlisted members of this crew will be rightfully recognized for their accomplishements.
4/25/2012 7:31:18 AM ET I guess the enlisted guys did on the crew did nothing to make the mission successful. Typical...officers get all the credit.
RW, Warner Robins GA
4/24/2012 4:47:18 PM ET I would be courious on what the rest of the crew recieved as far as recognition These awards DFC's are very individualized even on a crew aircraft. At least these were earned for for combat actions and not for making spred sheets.Well done sir's