SSgt. Joshua Andrews received a Bronze Star with Valor and TSgt. Warren Williams, SSgt. George Earhart, and SSgt. James Spreter received Bronze Stars for their actions while deployed to Southwest Asia. All four are members of the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron at Pope AFB, N.C. Working as a joint terminal attack controller in Iraq, Andrews controlled more than 30 combat aircraft during 36 hours of an operation and, even when wounded, he braved enemy fire to help move wounded to evacuation aircraft and continued his work controlling aircraft. Williams served in Iraq as a noncommissioned officer in charge of 12 tactical air control party airmen dispersed throughout the country and planned and executed close air support for a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. Earhart worked as a JTAC in Afghanistan, where his work with the Army included serving as the machine gunner on more than 40 mounted and dismounted operations. Spreter served as a JTAC with the Army in Afghanistan, where he led various TACP operations in hostile areas. During the ceremony earlier this month, Col. Patrick Pihana, 18th Air Support Operations Group commander, said, “This air-ground environment is a crucible, and to do this job it takes someone who is quick on their feet and can talk just as easily to an Army commander on the ground as they can to an aircraft commander in the air.” (Pope report by 2nd Lt. Chris Hoyler)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.