Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer presents the 2011 Cheney Award to Master Sgt. Joseph Brownell during a ceremony at the Pentagon on Nov. 1, 2012. Brownell earned the award for a harrowing rescue mission to extract a medically distressed civilian hiker and his son from the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael J. Pausic)
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer presents the 2011 Cheney Award to Capt. Kenneth Green during a ceremony at the Pentagon on Nov. 1, 2012. Established in 1927, the Cheney Award is awarded to Airmen for an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, performed with an aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael J. Pausic)
by Senior Airman Christina Brownlow
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
11/6/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Two Airmen received the 2011 Cheney Award here Nov. 1 from Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer for their distinguished service during a search and rescue mission on Mount Stuart, Wash.
Capt. Kenneth Green, UH-1N Twin Huey pilot, and Master Sgt. Joseph Brownell, field operation section chief, saved the lives of a civilian and his son Aug. 20, 2011, after they suffered acute mountain sickness while climbing the mountain's 9,000-foot peak.
Green executed a 200-foot hover and hoisted Brownell down to access the climbers. Brownell then stabilized both people and extracted them by hoist. Near maximum weight, the aircraft then began to descend, so Green expertly maneuvered the aircraft to lower terrain.
"The mission called and these two gentlemen launched," Spencer said. "When the mission calls, (Airmen) don't stop and ask questions. We just go rely on the training we have received."
The Cheney Award honors an Air Force member for an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, performed in connection with aircraft, but not necessarily of a military nature. It is presented in memory of 1st Lt. William Cheney, who was killed in an air collision over Italy in 1918.
"There are heroic things going on in our Air Force every day, and these two gentlemen epitomize that," Spencer said.
Both Airmen said they were humbled and honored to receive the award, and said the mission would not have been a success without the dedication of everyone involved.
Green credited his Air Force training for ensuring he and other Airmen can continue to ably serve the nation.
Brownell was quick to point out that many other Airmen helped them the day of the rescue, not to mention the two other crew members on the mission.
"We are truly a team -- everybody from the maintainers who maintain the helicopter to the guys flying," he said. "We can't do it without them."