Two special-operations airmen each received the Air Force Cross medal – the service’s second-highest honor for valor in combat – for heroism they displayed during separate combat actions in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2013. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presented the medals in an April 20 ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Retired Master Sgt. Keary Miller, a pararescueman, is credited for saving the life of a comrade during a 17-hour firefight in March 2002. He was attached to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, Kentucky Air National Guard, at the time. Staff Sgt. Chris Baradat, a close-air support operator with the Joint Base Pope-Bragg, N.C.-based 21st Special Tactics Squadron, received the award for his actions during an April 2013 firefight. He is credited with directing 13 500-pound bombs and more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition toward Taliban positions during a fierce three-hour firefight. Both awards were upgrades from Silver Star medals they had received earlier for the actions, brought about after a 2016 review of combat-operations related awards.
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