Maj. Kenneth Brandon, 374th Communications Squadron director of operations, and a formation of airmen stand at attention and prepare to render a salute as the American flag is lowered at a retreat ceremony at Yokota AB, Japan, on Oct. 18, 2019. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe.
Photo Caption & Credits

Faces of the Force

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Staff Sgt. Dylan Nuckolls

SECAF Barbara M. Barrett earned “Spirit number 732” on a B-2 stealth bomber training mission during a June 11 visit to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. During the nearly two-hour flight in a radius of about 200 miles … Lt. Col. Nicola C. Polidor ”introduced the Secretary to the procedures of a typical training mission,” 509th Bomb Wing spokesperson Tech. Sgt. Alexander Riedel told Air Force Magazine. Barrett, an instrument-rated pilot, took the controls of the stealth bomber during flight.

Tech. Sgt. Kat Justen

Capt. Emily Thompson, an F-35A pilot from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, recently became the first woman to fly the Air Force’s Joint Strike Fighter variant into combat. “This is my first deployment …
so for me it was a pretty big deal. … Of course being the first female, it’s a pretty big honor,” she said. A four-woman maintenance crew worked with
Thompson the day of the flight. Before flying the F-35A, Thompson trained
on and completed a tour in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


Candice Hatcher-Solis, a research scientist in the AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing, won Women of Color Magazine’s 2020 STEM Technical Innovation in Government award. She leads the lab’s Neurobiology of Cognitive Performance team, mentors budding engineers and scientists, and is passionate about getting more women and minorities into STEM careers. “Diversity in STEM benefits all and engenders innovation and creativity to address questions and solve problems,” she said.

Tech Sgt. Brooklyn Greenwood

The 561st and 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons paint teams from the Warner Robins ALC joined forces to memorialize 1st Lt. Kenneth Allen, an
assistant chief of weapons and tactics who died June 15 when his F-15C crashed into the North Sea. They stenciled Allen’s name on the side of an F-15E that was bound for RAF Lakenheath, U.K. “This is our way of honoring a fallen warrior and sharing our grief … with our warfighting teammates at Lakenheath,” said 561st AMXS Director Jim Kelly.

Master Sgt. Jessica Young

Tennessee ANG Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Crider (pictured) and Tech. Sgt. David Hill are collaborating with the Warner Robins ALC and the augmented reality/virtual reality development studio Moth+Flame—with support from ARCWERX— to let maintainers practice repairing F-15C, F-15E, C-130H, C-17A, C-5M, and JSTARS aircraft engines using VR. The effort is expected to save USAF money, improve training quality, and boost the overall mission-capable rate, Crider said.


When the Air Force Reserve put out a call for backup as part of its COVID-19 response to hotspots, 349th Medical Group doctor Sanjiv Baxi volunteered to deploy to New York City. “I had been working on COVID-19 for a few months before it hit,” said Baxi, an infectious disease physician who teaches epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco in his civilian time. “Because of my background, … I felt I had something to bring to the fight.”

Airman 1st Class William Rio Rosado

Staff Sgts. Anthony (above) and Hunter of Creech Air Force Base’s 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron saved a U.S. Marine whose leg was caught by a wheel used to help tow a UH-1Y Venom helicopter, when the aircraft started dragging them across the flight line. After a rescue attempt by other U.S. troops failed, they lifted the helicopter by its tail so the Marine could be freed, and cared for them until help arrived. “It makes a lot of the danger for the jobs we do more real,” Hunter said.


The Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., 61st Airlift Squadron was awarded the General Joseph Smith Trophy as AMC’s top airlift squadron in 2019. The squadron backed up seven combatant commanders in five different AORs, flew 5,500 tactical airlift sorties, and moved over 24,000 people and 14 million tons of cargo. “This win is concrete feedback … [to] all the effort the squadron has put into the combat airlift enterprise,” said squadron
Commander Lt. Col. Andrew Miller.

William Dollar/courtesy/USAFA

The U.S. Air Force Academy added a new member to its Falconry Team. The female gyrfalcon—whose name hadn’t been determined by press time—was hatched in May, USAFA spokesperson Maureen Welch said. Her initial training will be getting used to sitting on falconry cadets’ gloved hands and becoming accustomed to having a hood put on and removed. She’ll also be trained in the flying skills necessary for football game halftime performances at USAFA.