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563d RQG Airmen receive medals

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devlin Bishop
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Nine Airmen from the 563d Rescue Group were awarded medals during a ceremony at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Dec. 12, 2022.

The medals were awarded to these Airmen for their heroic actions during their respective missions while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I am honored and humbled to share the stage with these [nine] incredible Airmen today," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Sean Choquette, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) vice commander. "Their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan in January of 2020 and August of 2021 epitomize the finest attributes of each and every one of you in this theater today.”

The Air Medal with Valor was awarded to Capt. Charles Heisler and Capt. Bryan Tordoff, both HH-60G Pave Hawk pilots, as well as Master Sgt. Christian Freeman, Master Sgt. James Hollenbach, Staff Sgt. Michael Buchalski and Staff Sgt. Robert Rutledge, all HH-60G Pave Hawk special missions aviators.

The Air Medal with Valor is awarded to military personnel who distinguish themselves by single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement in combat or combat support while in participation of aerial flight.

Maj. Michael Madden, HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.

The Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor is awarded to military personnel who distinguish themselves by single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

"Our rescue Airmen, through very sound leadership, managed to save all of our rescue Airmen from two direct impacts on our compound," said Lt. Col. Brian Losacker, 55th Rescue Squadron commander. "These men in the aircraft clearly demonstrated notable courage, the type that will be written into history."

Master Sgt. Christopher Wilson and Tech. Sgt. Sean Hopper, both pararescuemen, were awarded the Bronze Star Medal for their heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2021.

The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to military personnel who have distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service without participation in aerial flight.

These Airmen exemplify the rescue and attack mission of the 355th Wing. Although nine Airmen were recognized, it takes the combined effort of all support personnel to ensure mission success in a hostile environment.