CLOVIS, N.M. – Two Air Force service members were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on Friday for their roles in making a combat resupply drop of ammunition to ground forces in Afghanistan who were in danger of being overrun during an enemy attack on a forward operating base.
Officials of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico said Capt. Charlotte A. Raabe was a combat systems officer on a MC-130J special operations aircraft and Staff Sgt. Gary P. Bjerke the plane's loadmaster during the Jan. 5, 2016 engagement.
A morning ceremony for the two went off "beautifully" before dozens of fellow service members, according to Cannon Air Force Base spokesman JP Rebello.
Their award citations said enemy fire hit the aircraft multiple times as it successfully dropped the ammunition to a Special Forces team at the base, enabling a successful counterattack.
Bjerke's identification of ground threats "prevented further successful emergency engagement with the aircraft," while Raabe's "decisive actions and expeditious recalculation of the combat airdrop" was key to the mission's success, the citations said.
Cannon base officials said Raabe is 29 and from Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. Bjerke is 25 and from Waukesha, Wisconsin.
The MC-130J is a commando version of the four-engine C-130 transport plane. It is used for low-level of refueling special operations aircraft and to resupply, deliver and pick up special operations personnel by airdrop and landing on remote airfields.
This story corrects the spelling of Capt. Charlotte Raabe's surname.