517th Airman receives Distinguished Flying Cross

  • Published
  • By By Maria Galvez
  • JBER Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Corey Martin, 18th Air Force commander, recognized 27 mobility Airmen for their actions during Operation Allies Refuge with the Distinguished Flying Cross at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 9, 2022.

One of the Airmen presented with the DFC for their acts of heroism and extraordinary achievements while participating in aerial flight is Senior Airman Alexis Sanchez, a C-17 loadmaster assigned to the 517th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

During the airlift, there were two Travis-led missions, now known as MOOSE 98 and REACH 651.

“I remember it felt like a movie. Like when you see those war movies with the litter patients coming on and the red lights. There were tracers, flares, fires and gunshots going off,” said Senior Airman Alexis Sanchez, C-17 loadmaster with MOOSE 98. “I remember being like, ‘Is this real?’”

The crew of MOOSE 98 conducted a critical care aeromedical evacuation mission from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 26, 2021, in response to a suicide bombing near the airfield.

To mitigate possible threats or hijacking attempts, crew members searched every evacuee prior to boarding and quickly directed them to their seats. This rapid response made it possible to get off the runway safely and deliver all of the patients to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, alive.

During the flight, the crew provided life saving actions to a suddenly ill passenger. The crew members carefully deescalated a potentially dangerous situation and ensured the safety of all service members and evacuees on board.

MOOSE 98 was the first aircraft to land after the bombing. The crew provided the first critical care air transport team on the ground after the attack and aeromedical evacuation.

Sanchez was an airman first class and on her first deployment when she was faced with this unexpected mission. She now shares her story with other Airmen who are serving in the hopes that she can inspire someone in their military career.

“I wouldn't want it to be anyone else. I'm extremely honored and proud that I was able to do this so early in my career,” she said. “I'm a very compassionate person, and I didn’t care how tired I was, I just knew we needed to get these people out.”

Editor's note: this story has been localized