The U.S. Air Force has handed out its first medals with an “R” device indicating the award is in relation to “remote” operations involving drones. In doing so, the service has also offered a rare acknowledgment of the secretive activities of its 732nd Operations Group and provided unusually specific details about a mission to take out an individual terrorist.
At a ceremony on July 11, 2018, U.S. Air Force Colonel Julian Cheater, commander of the 432nd Wing presented Meritorious Service Medals and Air Force Commendation Medals with the R device to five airmen from both the 732nd and 432nd Operations Groups. The Wing controls both units and their assigned squadrons. The Air Force did not say which individuals had received which medals and referred to them only by first names due to operational security concerns.