Maj. Kenneth Brandon, 374th Communications Squadron director of operations, and a formation of airmen stand at attention and prepare to render a salute as the American flag is lowered at a retreat ceremony at Yokota AB, Japan, on Oct. 18, 2019. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe.
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Faces of the Force

April 1, 2020

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Photo: Senior Airman Joseph P. Leveille

An AC-130U Spooky aircrew from the 4th Special Operations Squadron received 14 medals for their roles in providing more than nine hours of air support, enabling the rescue of 15 patients during a mass casualty evacuation on an April 2019 mission in Afghanistan. “The most lethal part of the gunship is the crew,” said Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Jim Slife. Aircraft commander Capt. Neils Aberhalden and navigator Capt. John Crandall Jr. received DFCs with a “C” (for combat) device, and Air Medals were awarded to fire control officer Capt. Micah Uvegas; co-pilot Capt. Brian Yee; electronic warfare officer 1st Lt. Nicholas Maiolo; flight engineer Tech. Sgt. Jacob Griffen; direct support operator Staff Sgt. Jonathon Friesz; aerial gunners Tech. Sgts. Ryan Estes and Austin Parrent, Staff Sgt. Michael Martinez, and Senior Airmen Jacob Bateman and Zadok Dean III; and sensor operators Staff Sgts. Samuel Mayfield and Omar Diaz. 

Photo: Capt. Kip Sumner

Capt. Kristin Wolfe became the first woman to fly on, as well as lead, the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team.  “I don’t consider myself a female pilot, but a pilot that happens to be a female,” she said. “I’m here to do a job, and that is to make this team the best out there.” Wolfe has flown the team’s cornerstone aircraft since 2017. Prior to flying F-35s, Wolfe was an F-22 Raport instructor pilot. She has near 1,000 hours combined in stealth aircraft. 

Photo: Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine

On Feb. 18, an all-African American aircrew from Washington’s Fairchild Air Force Base refueled F-16s flown by Airmen from the Red Tail Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., to honor Black History Month and to pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. “We don’t have much [African-American] representation here right now,” said Capt. Jazmind Roberts, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron pilot. “I am the only black female pilot. This flight is to show we also have representation on [the KC-135].”

Photo: Senior Airman Anne McCready

Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, instructor pilots Maj. Will Smith and Capt. Andrew Campbell will soon become foreign affairs officers. Smith will join the U.S. European Command staff after completing Russian language training, spending time at an embassy, and getting his master’s degree. Campbell will work as a security cooperation officer at an American embassy in Australia after finishing his master’s and completing language and embassy affairs-related training in Asia.

Photo: James Bowman/USAF

Col. Terrence Adams, received the Military Service Award during the 34th Black Engineer of the Year STEM Global Competitive Conference in February. The award honored Adams’ “exceptional achievements and mentorship in the STEM career fields,” USAF said. “This award is not about me, it’s about a community of people working together to build pipelines of students interested in cyber, STEM, and aviation for our nation’s defense,” Adams said.

Photo: Tech. Sgt. Alexandre Montes

Chief Master Sgt. Cyrus Snider Sr. and his son Airman 1st Class Cyrus Snider Jr. have made serving in the Illinois Air National Guard a family affair. Both joined the 182nd Airlift Wing immediately after high school and recently deployed together to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. “To be here with him right now, what can make a dad prouder?” said Cyrus Sr., who is preparing to retire after more than 12 deployments and nearly 1,000 combat flying hours. 

Photo: Rachel Simones/USAF

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer has named AFRL’s Sensors Directorate Tech Transfer and Alliance Program Manager Jack Owsley III as its Rookie of the Year for 2020. “My job is to help protect the intellectual property (IP) of the government,” Owsley explained. His achievements include negotiating a joint ownership agreement for USAF between the United States and the United Kingdom” and executing “20 new cooperative research and development agreements.” 

Photo: USAF

The Bay County Chamber of Commerce in Florida recently bestowed its Chairman’s Award upon 325th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Brian Laidlaw in recognition of Tyndall Air Force Base’s resiliency and role in helping the county come back from Hurricane Michael. The award honors remarkable community service and has only been given out on five previous occasions. Laidlaw accepted the honor, but, he said, “Team Tyndall earned it.”

Photo: USAF/courtesy

Retiring Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Military Working Dog Kira—who, during her six years on the job, worked in patrol and explosives detection—got the best present possible: a forever home. One of her former handlers, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Gray, flew to New Jersey for the 9-year-old canine’s retirement party and adopted her as soon as it ended. “She was misunderstood and feared for how intense she was,” he recalled. Kira now calls Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., home.