BURLINGTON COUNTY, N.J. - Inside the Grace Peterson Hall at Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst, seven airmen with the 621st Contingency Response Wing were honored with the Bronze Star for their service during Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Without a doubt the efforts of these airmen and their elite teams changed the course of this conflict,” Major General Christopher Bence explained.
The 621st Contingency response wing is trained to quickly reopen airfields all over the world. Their focus on this mission was on airfields once destroyed by ISIS in Iraq and Northern Syria.
“There was no airlift capability besides from a helicopter movements in and out,” Chief Master Sergeant Ricky B Smith explained, “They took a massive crane and bulldozed and demolished the whole area. Nothing but the dirt ground basically.”
Their around the clock persistence provided a safe runway for planes as big as the C130 carrying cargo responsible for liberating 1.2 million Iraqi civilians in Mosul.
“Couldn’t be more proud of the team we took out there. Could have not done it alone,” Chief Master Sergeant Smith added.
“I will tell you being there landing zone watching the airplanes come in and depart I got chills because we worked very hard for this all of the airmen have,” Lieutenant Colonel Pat Rayner said.
After a few words from Major General Christopher Bence a bronze star was pinned to the jacket of each airman, symbolizing this meritorious achievement in a combat zone.
“It is extremely humbling. From a leader perspective, you never think that you are going to be recognized. (cover) None of us do it for the spotlight so it is gratifying but not everybody goes there gets something,” Chief Master Sergeant Smith said.