Air Force awards medal upgrades
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, ALABAMA. — Air Force Col. Christopher Barnett was awarded two Silver Stars on Thursday for his gallantry in action during two search and rescue missions in Afghanistan in 2009.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who departs the service’s top civilian post Thursday as part of the transition to President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, used her last hours in office to travel to Maxwell Air Force Base to honor Barnett and announce an additional seven servicemembers whose previous medals were upgraded.
“There’s nowhere I’d rather be on my last day” as Air Force secretary, James told a packed audience at the air force base, where Barnett and his family had gathered for the ceremony.
The medal upgrades are part of a Defense Department review of all Silver Stars and service crosses awarded since 2001 to determine whether servicemembers had been properly recognized for their actions in the last 15 years of fighting in the war on terror.
Barnett was flight leader of a two-ship HH-60G Pave Hawk combat search and rescue mission on April 4, 2009 in Kajaki, Afghanistan, when he led the helicopters “through firefights and a blinding sandstorm in near zero visibility” and executed one casualty evacuation when “he received word of a Special Forces convoy under attack by a large enemy force,” according to the Silver Star citation.
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