@charset "utf-8"; /* CSS Document */ p { font-family: "Comic Sans MS", sans-serif; font-size: 20pt;} blockquote { width: 100%; font-size: 18pt; font-style: italic; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', sans-serif; margin: 10px 10px 10px 10px; padding: 10px; } h1 { h1 class="title"; font-size: 14pt; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 0; line-height: 1.2; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', Arial, sans-serif; color:#000000; text-transform: uppercase;} .da_body h1 { font-size: 40px; margin-bottom: 5px;margin-top:0; line-height: 1.2; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', Arial, sans-serif; color: #123D63}

HomeNewsArticle Display

19th AW C-130J crew awarded for heroism on deployment

Airmen receiving an award

U.S. Air Force Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander, presents the Distinguished Flying Cross to Maj. Christopher Richardson, 61st Airlift Squadron pilot, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, May 10, 2021. The DFC is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the Armed Forces of the United States who distinguished her or himself, in actual combat, in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

Airmen receiving an award

U.S. Air Force Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander, presents the Air Medal to 1st Lt. Christian Grochowski, 61st Airlift Squadron pilot, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, May 10, 2021. The Air Medal is awarded to U.S. and civilian personnel for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight in actual combat in support of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

Airmen receiving an award

U.S. Air Force Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander, presents the Air Medal to Staff Sgt. Jade Morin, 61st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, May 10, 2021.The Air Medal is awarded to U.S. and civilian personnel for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight in actual combat in support of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

Airmen receiving an award

U.S. Air Force Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander, presents the Air Medal to Senior Airman Dimitrious Carden, 61st Airlift Squadron loadmaster, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, May 10, 2021. Carden received the Air Medal for decisive actions while deployed and his application of Self-Aid Buddy Care to his injured senior loadmaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aaron Irvin)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- On May 10, a C-130J Super Hercules aircrew from the 61st Airlift Squadron was awarded one Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals for their decisive actions and outstanding airmanship displayed under hazardous conditions while deployed to Afghanistan on Sept. 19, 2020.

The DFC is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the Armed Forces of the United States who distinguished her or himself, in actual combat, in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.

“Receiving the DFC was extremely humbling,” said Maj. Christopher Richardson, 61st Airlift Squadron pilot. “As aviators, we put a lot of time and effort into making sure everything goes as planned – sometimes that isn’t how it works out.”

While supporting an initial ingress of a Theater Response Force to a Forward Operating Base, the crew received effective enemy fire resulting in the injury of one aircrew member.

“The training we receive in the Air Force is absolutely critical,” said Senior Airman Dimitrious Carden, 61st AS loadmaster and Air Medal recipient. “Everything happened quickly, and adrenaline makes decision-making difficult, but having my previous training to lean on helped me incredibly.”

After receiving fire, Carden assessed the situation and acted decisively, coordinating and applying Self-Aid Buddy Care with the onboard Combat Control Team. 

“I knew what I needed to do and how to do it,” Carden added. “I remember quite clearly being able to think back to times spent practicing for these types of events and using that to guide my actions.”

After evaluating the situation, Richardson decided to make a second approach to the FOB. On the second ingress, the pilots discovered a flight control malfunction – an additional result of the small arms fire. The decision was then made to return to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. 

“For me, it was a continual balancing of priorities,” Richardson said. “First was to get the crew and the plane out of harm’s way. Second was assessing if the mission was worth the risk.  If you are an expert at your job, you’ll know what to do in a stressful situation. Knowing where your efforts fit into the mission allows you to assess the risk of what’s happening and work as a team to get the job done.”

Upon landing, another C-130J was loaded, prepped and made ready with additional crew members to accompany the remaining crew from the first attempt.

“My leadership offered me a chance to step out for the rest of the mission, but I just imagined if those kinds of dangers awaited me the first time, I couldn’t stand by while someone took my place and flew into the same kinds of danger,” Carden said. 

After reloading personnel and cargo onto another aircraft, the C-130J took off again to continue the mission.

“The teamwork aspect of the squadron was awesome,” Richardson said. “I told them we were on our way back with a problem and the whole squadron jumped into action. After we landed, another plane was loaded, prepped and ready, and extra crew members were briefed up and ready to go.”

In addition to Carden, the Air Medal was also presented to 1st Lt. Christian Grochowski, 61st AS pilot, and Staff Sgt. Jade Morin, 61st AS loadmaster.

The Air Medal is awarded to U.S. and civilian personnel for single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight and foreign military personnel in actual combat in support of operations.

“I certainly would not have succeeded alone – we all worked together and relied on each other that night,” Carden said. “Everybody on that plane played a significant role in carrying out the mission and bringing everyone home safely.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.