Air Force Cross recipients honored at Pope Field

  • Published
  • By Maj. Lisa Ray
  • 440th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Four bronze busts in the likeness of Air Force Cross recipients were unveiled during a ceremony here honoring the Airmen at the Combat Control School Dec. 6.

The busts honor Capt. Barry Crawford, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, Staff Sgts. Robert Gutierrez and Zach Rhyner. Crawford and Gutierrez were in attendance as well as Chapman's widow and mother. He was awarded the Air Force Cross posthumously.

Chapman was a combat controller who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002. Crawford is a special tactics officer who engaged in a 10-hour battle with insurgents in Afghanistan in 2010 and Guitierrez and Rhyner are combat controllers who battled Afghan insurgents for more than 6.5 hours in 2009.

"Nowhere else in the Air Force will you find a memorial like this," said Col. Robert Armfield, the 24th Special Operations Wing commander and guest speaker for the event.

The ceremony was as unique as the exhibit. When it was time to learn about the heroic actions that warranted the award of the Air Force Cross, combat conrol instructors appeared out of the shadows in full combat gear and recited from memory accounts of those fateful days.

"This display will serve as a permanent reminder to all the Airmen, families and public which pass through these halls of the sacrifices and heroism of those that have come before them," Armfield said.

The Air Force Cross was established by Congress in July 1960. It recognizes individuals for extraordinary heroism and is second only to the Medal of Honor.

"This is a great day for the Air Force the Airmen at Pope Field," said Brig. Gen. Norman Ham, the 440th Airlift Wing commander. "It is important for people to remember that not only are there still Airmen at Fort Bragg, but that heroes are trained here, and this school is something to be proud of."

The busts were donated by the Combat Control School Heritage Foundation and were funded by the Combat Control Association, private donors and the CCS Heritage Foundation.

The Air Force Cross display is now a part of the school's museum maintained by the CCS Heritage Foundation and the Combat Control Association. The museum is an extension of the Air Force museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Historian Ron Brown is the volunteer curator.

More information about the Combat Control School Heritage Foundation can be found at