Lt. Col. Dominic Calderon, 1st Lt. Kyle Anderson, and Master Sgt. Silva Foster of the 349th Air Mobility Wing, and Senior Airman Michael Geller from the 3rd Wing, were each awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after they crewed a C-17 during the noncombatant evacuation out of Kabul, Afghanistan, in August 2021, saving the lives of 153 people amid a chaotic situation as the Taliban seized control of the city and desperate Afghans swarmed the airfield at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Also honored at the ceremony was Staff Sgt. Dennis Gonzales-Furman, from the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who served as the aircrew’s flying crew chief during the mission in Afghanistan.
Anna Cummins, 16, was named the Air Force Military Child of the Year and honored during an April gala by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. The daughter of Amy and Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins, Anna, 70th Flying Training Squadron flight commander, volunteers at hospitals, helps care for her older sister Maddy who lives with Rett syndrome, founded the Aviation and Aerospace Club at her Colorado high school, and has a leadership role in the Civil Air Patrol. She hopes to become a physician’s assistant and to join the Air Force.
Businessman and philanthropist John Martinson, a 1970 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, made the largest philanthropic gift supporting academics in Academy history—$10 million to expand and elevate USAFA’s honors program. The Martinson Honors Program impacts cadets and faculty, including the outfitting of a new space in the library. The program will prepare cadets “to win scholarships, to be accepted into graduate school, to compete … and to accelerate their Air Force careers,” Martinson said.
Retired Col. Fred C. Seals Jr., who served as commander of the then-137th Military Airlift Wing in the early 1970s, turned 100 years old on April 9 and was honored with the Stanley F.H. Newman Award, given to civilians who contribute to the Oklahoma ANG mission. Seals is a veteran of World War II, the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He flew C-124s, C-46s, and B-17s before retiring in 1973 and continued to stay involved with the Oklahoma ANG, with two of his sons joining the Air National Guard.
Tech. Sgt. Andrew Brockman, a senior munitions inspector at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., beat out his fellow Airmen in a contest sponsored by Petty Motorsports and the Air Force Recruiting Service with his paint scheme for NASCAR’s No. 43 car, which is sponsored by the Air Force. The design, which came out on top in a social media poll, is modeled after a B-29 Superfortress, with glass up front and riveted panel design.
Tech. Sgt. Ryan Penne, Master Sgt. Elmer Quijada, and Master Sgt. Devin Butcher, pararescuemen with the Kentucky ANG, worked together to save the life of a drowning infant on March 15. At an aquatic center, Butcher noticed a swim instructor holding an infant that was blue. Butcher assessed the situation, handed the baby off to Penne and Quijada who performed CPR, and directed other members of the team to call an ambulance and gather needed supplies. The infant is now doing well.
Master Sgt. Hong Zhou is a USAF budget analyst. But twice over the past decade, she has been called upon to use her Mandarin language skills as an impromptu aircrew member providing airborne language translation between pararescue operations and civilian ships thousands of miles off the coast of California. Volunteering for the missions led to an Aerial Achievement Medal—uncommon for an Airman working in finance.
Master Sgt. William Patrick (right), superintendent of plans and programs with the 182nd Security Forces Squadron and a part-time police deputy in Stanford, Ill., was honored by the Illinois Air National Guard in April for recognition of his bravery while serving as a police officer—responding to a suspicious vehicle complaint in a rural area, Patrick identified a felony suspect who had kidnapped a five-year-old girl. Not having time to wait for assistance, Patrick extricated and arrested the suspect, with a subsequent investigation concluding that his actions “undoubtedly saved the young girl’s life.” Patrick “did some truly heroic things and it’s just awesome,” Col. Daniel McDonough, the wing’s commander, said. “He realized how dire that situation was and assessed the situation. I’m sure he would not like me talking about him as a hero, but there’s no other way to put it. He saved that girl’s life.”