Airmen upset after entire C-17 crew receives Distinguished Flying Cross except for the maintainer


Lt. Col. Dominic Calderon, 301st Airlift Squadron chief of training; 1st Lt. Kyle Anderson, 301st AS assistant operations officer; Master Sgt. Silva Foster, 301st AS loadmaster; Senior Airman Michael Geller, 517th Airlift Squadron loadmaster; and Staff Sgt. Dennis Gonzalez-Furman, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, listen before being recognized during a Distinguished Flying Cross award ceremony at Travis Air Force Base, California, Apr. 1, 2022. The Distinguished Flying Cross medal is awarded to any officer or enlisted person of the United States armed forces who has demonstrated heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Green)

Many within the US Air Force airlift community are currently disgruntled that members of a C-17 aircrew were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross- all except the mission-essential crew chief.

The USAF’s slighting of flying crew chief Staff Sgt. Dennis Gonzales-Furman, who hails from the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, has come as a shock to many, but is also unsurprising to many enlisted men.

Gonzales-Furman played a critical role in the transport of US Army 82nd Airborne troops during the disastrous recovery of US assets from the Kabul airport in Afghanistan last summer, and was hard at work when Afghans breached the security perimeter.

“The conditions that day were like none I had ever seen,” said the aircraft commander, Lt. Col. Dominic Calderon, of the 301st Airlift Squadron according to an Air Force press release. “The airfield was breached and there were mass crowds entering.”

Along with LTC Calderon, 1st Lt. Kyle Anderson and Master Sgt. Silva Foster, Senior Airman Michael Geller of the 517th Airlift Squadron, Gonzales-Furman helped evacuate 153 US citizens and allies.

“The crew performed well under enormous pressure,” Calderon said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way the entire crew operated.”

According to Task & Purpose, many within the US Air Force were dismayed when the entire crew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross- everyone except Gonzales-Furman.

An Air Force official speaking on the condition of anonymity claimed that Gonzales-Furman had been submitted for a Distinguished Flying Cross along with the rest of the crew, but it was denied for unknown reasons.

A resubmission for a DFC is currently being evaluated.

Gonzales-Furman was compared by Redditors to Chewbacca in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” as the character was the only one to receive no medal for his role in destroying the Death Star.

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