Capt. Chad Bubanas, an AC-130H gunship commander assigned to the 18th Flight Test Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., has won the annual Cheney Award. The Air Force bestows the honor each year upon aviators who demonstrate an act of valor, extreme fortitude, or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian venture in memory of 1st Lt. William Cheney, who died in an air collision over Italy in 1918. The Air Force recognized Bubanas for directing his 13-member gunship crew during close air support in Afghanistan in May 2007 to ground troops that included the survivors of a CH-47 crash who came under direct fire from hostile forces. Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff, presented Bubanas with the award Oct. 6 at the Pentagon. Schwartz said, because of Bubanas and his crew, American lives were saved that day. “It just proves that Americans never leave a comrade behind,” he said. Bubanas said the award was a team effort, crediting his crew. “I really wish they could be here, but half of them are deployed and doing what they do best,” he said. (SAF/PA report SSgt. J.G. Buzanowski)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.