Six special-operations airmen received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their role in a January 2017 mission in Yemen. Air Force magazine reported that the six — attached to the 67th Special Operations Squadron — received their awards during a Jan. 22 ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla., where they are stationed. Maj. Rosas Biechler, Capt. Justin Nadal, Maj. Mary Spafford, Tech. Sgts. Adam Phelan and Samuel Haydon, and SSgt. Christopher Jones were flying on a MC-130J during the mission. Biechler and Nadal were the plane’s pilot and copilot respectively.
The mission entailed assisting Navy SEALs who had conducted a raid on Yemen’s Baida province. The airmen flew into “denied airspace,” faced enemy artillery fire, and helped set up a forward location from which other aircraft could refuel and rearm.
Their 16-hour mission included refueling other aircraft, helping to evacuate a crew of a damaged MV-22 Osprey, and assisting in the recovery of important intelligence materials.