Hurlburt Airmen receive Combat Action Medal

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The Air Force chief of staff presented the first Air Force Combat Action Medals to six Airmen during an 8 a.m. ceremony Tuesday at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va. 

Gen. T. Michael Moseley awarded the new medals to recognize Air Force members who were engaged in air or ground combat "outside the wire" in a combat zone. 

The Air Force Combat Action Medal is also awarded to members who were under direct and hostile fire, or who personally engaged hostile forces with direct and lethal fire. 

The design of the new medal was inspired by a personal insignia Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell had painted on the aircraft that he flew over the St. Mihiel while developing his plans for what would be the first major American offensive in World War I. General Mitchell was one of the military's earliest advocates of air power. 

"Through an evolution of Air Force warfighting roles, more Airmen are finding themselves involved in combat actions. Some have earned awards from other services to reflect this, but Airmen should wear Air Force awards on Air Force uniforms," General Moseley said.
 
Maj. Allison Black and Master Sgt. Byron Allen, 1st Special Operations Group, were two of the Airman presented with the medals. 

"It was an honor to be one of the first to receive the medal," said Sergeant Allen. "General Moseley and Billy Mitchell's grandson both gave moving speeches." 

Sergeant Allen received the medal for his actions April 12, 2004 when the lead MH-53 PAVE LOW in a two-ship formation, was shot down in Fallujah, Iraq. 

"He's my go-to guy," said Maj. John Buchanan, 1st SOG Weapons and Tactics supervisor. "He's and action NCO - he gets it done." 

Major Black received the combat action medal for her actions as a navigator assigned to the 16 SOS. On Dec 4, 2001, she and her crew saved the lives of friendly forces engaged in a heavy fire-fight by providing close-air support under intense anti-aircraft artillery fire.
 
"Allison is an outstanding officer," said Maj. Shelley Rodriguez, 1st SOG. "Her determination, professionalism, selflessness and dedication to the special operations forces mission are what make her the warrior leader she is." 

(Editor's note: Jamie Haig, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article).