Airmen awarded with Air Force's highest combat medal at Hurlburt Field
For the first time in history, two Special Tactics airmen received the Air Force's highest combat medal at the same time.
A symbolic flyover by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds kicked off a special ceremony at Hurlburt Field to honor two airmen for their heroic actions against enemy fighters in Afghanistan.
Each Special Tactics airman is receiving the Air Force Cross.
It's the Air Force's highest combat medal and second highest military decoration for valor in the U.S.
General David Goldfein, 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force said, "You do what others cannot or will not do and you do it because it must be done and because there's no one better."
In March 2002, retired Master Sergeant Keary Miller helped care for critically wounded U.S. service members during a 17-hour battle against Al Qaeda forces.
Eleven years later and more than 100 miles north of Miller's mission, Staff Sergeant Chris Baradat precisely directed 13 500-pound bombs and more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition during three hours of intense fighting against the Taliban in a steep valley, contributing to the safety of 150 troops and destruction of 50 enemy and 13 separate enemy fighting positions.
Gen. Goldfein said, "I'd like to say these events and your actions are remarkable because I truly feel that to be the case. However, I doubt you'd both agree. I suspect you'd say you did your job. Why? Because."
He said both men represent the finest traits Americans can ask of its warriors.
"As your chief I cannot be more proud to have served with you and for the unforgettable honor to present you with the Air Force Cross," Gen. Goldfein said.
MSgt. Miller and SSgt. Baradat's names have been added to the scrolls of Air Force Cross recipients and living memorial to Special Tactics airmen.
"It's definitely a humbling experience to be a part of the legacy of all these other men who have done extraordinary things," SSgt. Baradat said. "I was just concentrating on doing my job and getting through the mission."
The airmen said it's an honor to receive the Air Force Cross, but that it shouldn't be bestowed just on them.
SSgt. Baradat said, "Everyone on the team that day that was there did extraordinary things just as heroic if not more. I think of this as an award for the whole time to bring light to everyone that was there that day."
Also, MSgt. Miller said, "A lot of great guys that day did some amazing things. I was just part of a team and I functioned and I did my job."
The ceremony ended with Memorial Push-ups in honor of fallen Special Tactics airmen who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Only 10 airmen in the past 40 years have received the Air Force Cross; all of which have hailed from the Special Tactics community.
MSgt. Miller and SSgt. Baradat represent only the 8th and 9th recipients since Sept. 11.