Kadena AB, Japan—During an airman’s call here, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to five members of the 33rd Rescue Squadron for their heroism in the air during a grueling and dangerous rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2012. Recognized by Welsh on Aug. 21 for their intrepid actions were: Capt. Michael H. Kingry, Capt. Gavin H. Johnson, 1st Lt. Matthew M. Pfarr, TSgt. Scott D. Lagerveld, and SrA. Robert G. Wells. These airmen were crewmembers of “Pedro 83” and “Pedro 84,” two HH-60G rescue helicopters operating out of Bagram Airfield on Aug. 4, 2012. During a 7.5 hour, 320-mile mission on that day, they rescued six wounded New Zealand soldiers, along with an Afghan soldier, and Afghan national, in mountainous terrain while under direct enemy fire. They also enabled the return with honor of two coalition members killed in action. Welsh said it was an honor to recognize these airmen in front of their peers, noting that they embodied the spirit of airmen by coming to the aid of others under the most difficult of circumstances. “This is what they do,” said Welsh.
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.