Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Air Force Special Operators Honored For Airdrop In Afghanistan Under Intense Fire
The MC-103J Commando II airplane rumbled low to the ground, nearing the intense firefight below where a team of American special operators and allied commandos were encircled by Taliban fighters in a remote part of Afghanistan.
One Green Beret had been killed and another soldier had been seriously wounded. The remaining force was out of water and nearly out of ammunition – each soldier with as little as one magazine of rounds left. They were in danger of being overrun.
But the MC-130J crew refused to hesitate, even as insurgents turned machine guns and anti-aircraft artillery toward the burling turbo-prop transport plane. Taking heavy fire, the crew made life-saving calculations and decisions necessary to drop a combat load of water, food and ammunition to the American and allied fighters below, ultimately allowing them to hold off the attack and survive the Jan. 5, 2016 encounter, according to Air Force award citations and documents.
On Jan. 5, exactly two years to the date of that mission, two of the six Air Force special operators manning the MC-130J that day were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroic actions that ensured the success of the mission, said Air Force Brig. Gen. William Holt II, the director of operations for Air Force Special Operations Command. All six members of the crew have been approved to receive the decoration, he added.
Capt. Charlotte Raabe and Senior Airman Gary Bjerke were each awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on Jan. 5, 2018.U.S. Air Force
“They didn’t hesitate because there were friendly forces on the ground inside that compound that were under fire from 360 degrees,” Holt said Friday, moments before pinning the Distinguished Flying Cross on Capt. Charlotte Raabe and Senior Airman Gary Bjerke during a ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. “The crew had to perform quickly, at low level, during mid-day, under intense enemy fire, and that’s exactly what they did.”
Raabe, then a first lieutenant, was serving as the combat systems officer aboard the MC-130J aircraft. She was credited for making on-the-fly calculations to direct the pilots away from incoming artillery rounds and, eventually, into the proper position to make a precision airdrop, according to the citation for her award.
“Although her aircraft was struck multiple times by enemy fire, [Raabe’s] decisive actions and expeditious recalculation of the combat airdrop led to the successful resupply,” it read.
Capt. Charlotte Raabe was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on Jan. 5, 2018.U.S. Air Force
Meanwhile, from the rear of the aircraft, Bjerke, the crew’s loadmaster, watched the incoming fire as he prepared to drop the supplies, which had to land within 50 meters of the American troops or risk falling into enemy hands, his award citation read.
“Bjerke notified the pilots they were taking fire, despite the high potential for surface to air engagement, Airman Bjerke diligently prepared the resupply bundles for airdrop as the aircraft flew through the effective lethal range of small arms and anti-aircraft artillery,” the citation stated. “… Under direct fire from enemy forces, Airman Bjerke’s decisive actions and initiative led to the successful resupply … of the Special Forces team, halting any further loss of life.”
The crew understood the dire situation on the ground, Bjerke said.
“It did not set in that we were taking fire until the ramp and door had opened,” he said in an Air Force statement. “I distinctly remember hearing the cracks of the bullets passing behind the aircraft. The only thing I could think of was this resupply needed to be executed successfully.”
Senior Airman Gary Bjerke was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on Jan. 5, 2018.U.S. Air Force
In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross awards, the MC-130J crew from the 9th Special Operations Squadron additionally received the Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Award for the most outstanding airlift crew in the Air Force, Holt said.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is the nation’s oldest award for military aviation accomplishment. The vast majority of the awards are received for extraordinary achievement, Holt said.
“Very, very few are awarded for heroism in combat,” the general said. “Both of these are valor awards for heroism in combat … joining a very small group of military aviators. These are two exceptional Americans right here.”
©2018 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.
Nine years after losing both legs in Afghanistan, he's found purpose in family, friends and inspiring others
There's a joke that Joey Jones likes to use when he feels the need to ease the tension in a room or in his own head.
To calm himself down, he uses it to remind himself of the obstacles he's had to overcome. When he faces challenges today — big or small — it brings him back to a time when the stakes were higher.
Jones will feel out a room before using the line. For nearly a decade, Jones, 33, has told his story to thousands of people, given motivational speeches to NFL teams and acted alongside a three-time Academy Award-winning actor.
On Tuesday afternoon, he stood at the front of a classroom at his alma mater, Southeast Whitfield High School in Georgia. The room was crowded with about 30 honor students.
It took about 20 minutes, but Jones started to get more comfortable as the room warmed up to him. A student asked about how he deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I believe in post-traumatic growth," Jones said. "That means you go through tough and difficult situations and on the back end through recovery, you learn strength."
It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.
It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.
"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.