SSgt. Zachary Kline, a pararescueman with Air Force Reserve Command’s 306th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., received the Silver Star Medal for his gallantry in action during a daring mountainside rescue of the crew of a downed Army helicopter in Afghanistan in 2011. Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla, the Air Force’s deputy inspector general, presented Kline with the award during a July 14 ceremony on the Arizona base. “It’s an honor being recognized for just doing my job,” said Kline. “I worked with some awesome guys and [it] was nice being a part of it.” Padilla praised Kline, calling him “an example of an airman who bands together with other airmen to get the job done and to save others so that they may live.” Kline was one of the pararescuemen operating from Bagram Airfield on April 23, 2011, who deployed on two HH-60 rescue helicopters to retrieve the two-member crew of an Army OH-58D helicopter that crashed in an Afghan valley in a hostile area. Kline endured approximately six hours on the ground under intense enemy fire, defending the crash site and coordinating aerial counterattacks, according to Air Force accounts. His actions helped enable the rescue force to save the injured pilot, recover the body of the second pilot, and also retrieve a wounded soldier. The two Pave Hawk pilots on the mission that day received Silver Star Medals in July 2012. (Davis-Monthan report by SrA. Christine Griffiths) (For a detailed account of Kline’s heroics during the rescue mission, read A Day in the Life.)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.