News>CSAF presents rescue pilots multiple medals in ceremony
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented two Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor medals and the Bronze Star to Col. Christopher Barnett (left), and two Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor medals to Maj. John Creel (right) during a ceremony in the Pentagon on May 18, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz (left) presents the first of two Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor medals to Col. Christopher Barnett during a ceremony in the Pentagon on May 18, 2012. Barnett also received the Bronze Star during the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz (left) presents the first of two Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor medals to Maj. John Creel during a ceremony in the Pentagon on May 18, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Varhegyi)
by Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Williams, Jr.
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
5/18/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- 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.
6/1/2012 10:06:16 AM ET I have the very distinguished honor of working with these amazing officers their crews the maintainers for 10 years of my career. It was the highlight of my career and seems nothing will top it Way to go EVERYONE in Rescue @ Nellis You deserve it These thing we do...
Jolly Green, Arkansas
5/24/2012 1:02:26 PM ET Thank you TSgt Williams not only for the article but for the additional clarification. Many commenters lost focus about what the point of this story was. Thanks for giving us the between the lines insight on these two superb officers. Their calling out the gunner for recognition is pure class. And it is an honor to serve in the same branch as all of these aircrew.
Maj Hugh Cooke, Fairfax VA
5/24/2012 7:24:07 AM ET I wrote this story and I appreciate everyone reading it and the conversations generated on these two outstanding Airmen. I would like to say LtCol Barnett was prior Navy and a Naval Academy grad. Maj. Creel was pryor Army. So yes their ribbon racks do have some non AF specific awards. Also their air crews DID receive similar recognition. This was a case of they were here and other people wanted them recognized by CSAF and they deserved it They did not want this much fuss and both made sure the audience knew these awards were a reflection of their crews and all Airmen they serve with and not just them. One went as far as to have his gunner who was in the crowd stand up to be recognized. Both are active duty Airmen as well. For clarification. We should be honored that we serve with these individuals or have worn the uniform at any time with Airmen or any service member of this caliber.
Tech Sgt Richard Williams, Pentagon
5/23/2012 10:43:12 PM ET I can't believe that these people are knit-picking the awards and devices.This was an outstanding job by 2 fine officers.As a recipent of 2 DFCs during VietNam I hope the crews also received the same awards
MSGT RE, Phoenix AZ
5/23/2012 11:12:50 AM ET Congrats to these pilots. Outstanding examples of the fine aviation professionals in the USAF. The TSgt however needs to get off his high horse. If you are so confident in your assertions why don't you post your entire name and rank. You are a coward.
Chris Kimball, Indiana
5/23/2012 5:19:40 AM ET I'm no expert on flying helicopters but even on video games i get shot multiple times and usually crash haha. These officers did something only a few can come back and tell their story. Congrats on the achievements Sirs.
5/22/2012 4:07:11 PM ET Bottom line - there's nothing like Combat Search and Rescue...these men and women are like none other I believe they aren't recognized enough for the many many missions they have conducted and countless lives saved during OIF OEF etc. etc. etc...I'm proud to say that my hubby is a part of this close-knit family Kudos to you ALL
5/22/2012 10:26:06 AM ET These gentlemen and their leadership ensured that the entire crew aboard during these missions were recognized for thier efforts. Three of the DFCs were presented at Nellis AFB last year. httpwww.nellis.af.milnewsstory.aspid123260201What CSAR community does for our Air Force is truly amazing and its great to see their efforts being recognized at the top.
Charles Ramey, Pentagon
5/22/2012 8:36:45 AM ET These officers are top notch. They did make sure their crews were recognized. The FE and AG were awarded DFC's last year for the same missions. If anything, we should be lauding them for cutting the red tape and getting the E's medals through quickly. I understand it looks bad on the surface, but do some research and you will see everyone was recognized.
5/22/2012 7:34:41 AM ET Did we forget the rest of the crews Unless we bought some single seat choppers.
5/22/2012 6:49:58 AM ET Forget the medals nitpicking here. What's most important is if the crewmembers of those missions were similarly recognized. Somehow I doubt it...
5/22/2012 2:53:24 AM ET Ok everyone sipping the hatorade-stop. These personnel are not being recongnized for their uniform but for outstanding heroism in combat. Maybe if you got off Facebook long enough or put XBox controller down you would realize what war is all about. Basically get over yourselves and get a real job.
5/21/2012 11:36:13 PM ET I used to be in the 71st RQS which was a sister unit of the 41st RQS several years ago. I met then 1Lt Creel on an exercise or something and if I remember the story correctly he was an Army Warrant Officer helicopter pilot that crossed over to the USAF to be an officer flying on HH-60s so thats why he's got all the Army bling.
5/21/2012 2:45:36 PM ET Arctic warrior neither the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal nor the Liberation of Kuwait medals - as you called them they are actually the Kuwait Liberation Medal - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kuwait Liberation Medal - Government of Kuwait were limited to enlisted. Officers in theater at the time also were awarded these medals. Just an FYI.
5/21/2012 2:38:39 PM ET It is interesting that both the Colonel and the Major served in other branches of the service. According to their respective ribbon racks the Colonel was in the Navy and Major served in the Army.
Bruce, Silver Spring MD
5/21/2012 1:41:25 PM ET Arctic Warrior Colorado Springs Did you notice the Major has an Army Training Ribbon along with Air Assault badge and is clearly a member of the Reserve Component You could pick apart virtually every image on here for some 35-10 violation I'm sorry never embraced 36-2903. It was 35-10 when I went in and it will always be
Dave, Destin FL
5/21/2012 11:54:13 AM ET Hey TSgt JBPH-H...REALLY That's all you can think of Looking for flaws with the Col's uniform BTW...it's 36-2903...not 2803. Should be proud of your attention to detail when these two heroes received the DFC...really
MSgt JBPH-H, Hawaii
5/21/2012 11:47:53 AM ET TSgt at JBPH-HYou're correct but if you're going to use this forum to get on your high horse and correct someone else please get your reference correct. It's AFI 36-2903 not 2803.
5/21/2012 11:34:23 AM ET I find it interesting that Major Creel has both the Liberation of Kuwait and the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal. Prior enlisted
Arctic Warrior, Colorado Springs
5/21/2012 11:25:07 AM ET Great But what about the rest of the crewFlight Engineers and Gunners
5/21/2012 11:23:17 AM ET @TSgt Hawaii 5-0 - Lighten up Francis.
5/21/2012 8:41:12 AM ET True American heroes. It was an honor to witness this ceremony and hear the actions of these two warriors. These two epitomize our core values and I am honored to serve with Airmen of this caliber
Maj D, Pentagon
5/20/2012 2:37:25 PM ET Hopefully the crews of both sorties were awarded DFC's. Not just the Aircraft Commanders.
5/19/2012 9:50:10 AM ET A three year wait for these Airmen to receive formal recognition and praise for their heroic actions Cmon Air Force...we can do better than that
An American Airman, Houston TX
5/19/2012 5:06:58 AM ET Congratulations on your achievements Col Barnett but now with all due respectcan you please correct your Outstanding Unit Award because you are only allowed to have a maximum of four devices on your ribbon per AFI 36-2803. Thank you.