The raid wasn’t supposed to last 16 hours.
But the mission for the six airmen would ultimately be a heroic effort in which they entered hostile airspace to help rescue wounded comrades and recover critical intelligence components from the battlefield.
Two years after the first major special operations raid under the Trump administration, the airmen, part of the 67th Special Operations Squadron at the time, received Distinguished Flying Crosses last week for their actions in support of various tasks against terrorist operations under Operation Inherent Resolve, according to the Air Force. The awards were first reported by Air Force Magazine.
The crew members awarded in the ceremony included:
Maj. Ross Biechler, Aircraft Commander
Capt. Justin Nadal, Aircraft Co-Pilot
Maj. Mary Spafford, Evaluator Combat Systems Officer
Tech. Sgt. Adam Phelan, Evaluator Loadmaster
Tech. Sgt. Samuel Haydon, Evaluator Loadmaster
Staff Sgt. Christopher Jones, Instructor Loadmaster
While details of their exact mission the night of Jan. 28-29, 2017, remain scarce, the Air Force said the conditions were challenging.