Retired A1C Benjamin Hutchins received a Silver Star at a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., Friday, the Fayetteville Observer reported. Hutchins risked his life in November 2009 by jumping in the Bala Murghab River in Afghanistan while under enemy fire in an attempt to save two soldiers who had fallen in. According to the Silver Star citation, “Airman Hutchins, despite the onslaught of enemy fire, refused to leave the two soldiers and persisted in his recovery attempt until American forces arrived to repel the enemy and assist with the recovery.” Two days later, Hutchins, “with complete disregard for his personal safety, volunteered with three other individuals to leave cover and concealment and engage the enemy in order to neutralize the hostile fire. Airman Hutchins moved under heavy and accurate rocket propelled grenade, machine gun, and sniper fire across an open field with little to no cover or concealment.” Hutchins is credited with helping friendly forces overwhelm the enemy stronghold. He was medically retired in 2014 from wounds received in combat in 2012 and lives in Fayetteville, N.C., where he operates a construction business, according to the Observer. (See also: Retired Airman to Receive Silver Star.)
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.