Nellis Airmen receive DFC's.


Verified SOF
Aug 18, 2007
San Antonio Texas
Great job by these guys. Still pissed that it takes CENTAF two plus years to get these awards through the system. There are a few pics you can see by clicking on the link.

6/15/2011 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Maj. Gen. James Hyatt, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, presented the Distinguished Flying Cross with valor to three Nellis Airmen in a ceremony June 15 at the 763rd Maintenance Squadron hangar.

Maj. Keith Altenhofen, 561st Joint Tactics Squadron instructor pilot, Master Sgt. Joshua Fetters, 34th Weapons Squadron flight engineer, and Tech. Sgt. Christian Corella, 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron aerial gunner, received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a series of ground operations in Afghanistan.

"The rescue community truly has some amazing Airmen," General Hyatt said. "For them to overcome strenuous conditions and put the lives of complete strangers over their own, shows a great deal about each of their character."

The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Section 12 of the Air Corps Act in 1926, with the first being awarded by President Coolidge in 1927. The medal is awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes themselves in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

"It's an honor to help bring home the Air Force's number one resource: its men and women," Sergeant Fetters said. "It gives you a sense of accomplishment to help get a servicemember back to their family."

On April 4, 2009, the HH-60 formation carrying then Staff Sgt. Christian Corella was notified to evacuate an injured Afghan soldier and provide cover fire for a U.S. Special Forces convoy under attack by enemy forces. Sergeant Corella managed aircraft systems and his .50 caliber machine gun through a blinding sandstorm as a show of force causing enemy forces to retreat, while at the same time, directing the convoy on an alternate route clear of potential enemy ambush sites.

"It wasn't the best situation," Sergeant Corella said. "However, when you are accomplishing the mission, that all goes on the back burner. All you think about is helping the patient, protecting the formation and keeping your crew safe."

Sergeant Corella's team was alerted of a second team pinned down and threatened to be overrun by enemy forces, and they quickly moved to provide support. Disregarding their own safety, the crew hovered within 20 meters of enemy forces, exposing themselves to a barrage of machine gun and rocket fire. Sergeant Corella provided critical calls to maneuver the aircraft away from the rocket-propelled grenades while executing a flawless attack, which devastated the enemy position.

"This is what our combat search and rescue community does," Sergeant Corella said. "There are guys doing this same mission as we speak. This is what we all signed up for."

Due to Sergeant Corella's quick thinking and devotion to duty, he was able to save the lives of one Afghan National Army member and 40 U.S. Special Forces soldiers.

In a separate incident, then Capt. Keith Altenhofen and Tech Sgt. Joshua Fetters, deployed to the 129th Rescue Squadron in Afghanistan, performed heroically while executing military operations against another armed enemy.

On May 19, 2009, Captain Altenhofen, pilot of Pedro 35, was directed to perform an evacuation of an injured Soldier whose unit had been engaged in combat with enemy forces for four consecutive days. Captain Altenhofen took his HH-60 aircraft and flew it directly into a Taliban stronghold, dodging heavy machinegun, rocket and small arms fire while Sergeant Fetters, Pedro 35 flight engineer, manned his .50 caliber machine gun and laid cover fire for the approaching aircraft.

As Captain Altenhofen continually dodged incoming enemy fire, Sergeant Fetters rappelled from the aircraft to rescue the downed Soldier. Coordinating with Captain Altenhofen and a medical facility, they were able to evacuate the individual to receive proper treatment.

"You never know what to expect on any given mission," Major Altenhofen said. "We trained hard so that we were prepared for any scenario that would be thrown our way."

Pedro 35 soon received notification of an additional critically wounded Soldier in the same area of the Taliban stronghold. With little preparation with no rest, they re-launched to the same area within close proximity of the enemy forces and no air support.

Sergeant Fetters exited the aircraft at the position of the wounded soldier and began preparing him for extraction. While on approach to conduct the evacuation, Pedro 35 suffered a critical engine failure. Captain Altenhofen quickly diagnosed the problem and aborted the approach saving the lives of crew and the aircraft. Sergeant Fetters remained behind and provided cover fire for his wingmen before being extracted on a different approach.

Pedro 35 was again contacted to perform a third extraction in the same area to evacuate a casualty in the same ongoing firefight. The helicopter became a choice target for enemy forces, which had surrounded its landing zone. With complete disregard for their own lives, Captain Altenhofen flew into the landing zone while Sergeant Fetters provided critical landing directions. Together they were able to evacuate the casualty and get much-needed supplies to friendly forces while under enemy fire from all directions.

General Hyatt, whose son Mathew is a Marine infantryman, showed respect for how the Airmen in the rescue squadron put their lives on the line on a daily basis.

"It puts my wife and me at ease to know that if Matt were ever in trouble, there would be Airmen like these who would go into dangerous conditions and get him out," he said.

Even with the prestige of receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross with valor, the recipients said the medal is a nod to the hard work the recue community does in saving lives.

"It's humbling to be recognized by the general, but we have 19-year-olds doing the same thing," Major Altenhofen said. "Our story is small compared to some of the great things our rescue community has done over the last decade."

"It's never about the individual," Sergeant Corella said. "This medal is in recognition of all of members of the rescue community. The teamwork and hours of training is what helps us to accomplish our goal of saving lives."

The awards presented to these three Airmen represent the highest standards and core values the Air Force has set for its Airmen: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Their dedication to duty and heroic actions exemplify the courage Airmen display in combat on a daily basis.

"No one person can accomplish these missions alone," Sergeant Corella concluded. "Everybody in the combat search and rescue community strives to uphold the principals of our motto; 'these things we do, that others may live.'"

Outstanding story, but one question: The FE rappelled from the a/c to treat an injured soldier?

Great jobs to all involved and yes, AFCENT (you dated yourself, SOWT :D) is a slow beast.
I would like to know what is up with that. Why the FE- or even how, for that matter- rappelled from the AC to do any of this is the question. There has to be some sort of circumstance- but where is the PJ team? what was the Pedro flight doing? I am not calling BS or anything like that, and this man deserves the Honor bestowed on him, but it's a pretty amazing story, there has to be a pretty good set of circumstances behind it.
Free,amlove; saw the rappelling thing after I posted this. I suspect the PA person mis-understood what was being relayed.
Free, I am married and no longer need to date myself :D
Free,amlove; saw the rappelling thing after I posted this. I suspect the PA person mis-understood what was being relayed.
Free, I am married and no longer need to date myself :D

I still call it CENTAF from time to time...makes me feel "old school." :D