Alaska Air Guardsmen Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross

SMSgt. Christopher Widener, MSgt. Brandon Stuemke, and SSgt. Aaron Parcha each received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device for their heroic actions in Afghanistan in November 2010. The award ceremony took place on Nov. 3 for these members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 212th Rescue Squadron at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. “During the span of five days, these warriors, these pararescuemen, flew 25 missions retrieving a total of 49 US and coalition personnel, with 11 of those personnel deceased,” said Maj. Joe Conroy, 212th RQS commander, in an Elmendorf release. They retrieved 19 of the personnel via a hoist insertion and extraction, often under heavy enemy fire, states the release. “These brave and courageous warriors exited an HH-60 helicopter while in-flight by a cable hoist system under extreme and intense circumstances to recover fellow combatants wounded during ground combat operations,” said Conroy. He added, “Their direct actions led to lives saved.” (Elmendorf report by Maj. Guy Hayes) (For more on this pararescue operation, read The Teeth of Bulldog Bite from Air Force Magazine’s 2011 archives.)