The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2021 will be formally recognized at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference from Sept. 20 to 22 in National Harbor, Md. Air Force Magazine is highlighting one each workday from now until the conference begins. Today, we honor Tech. Sgt. Christopher Bennett from the 81st Training Group at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
Bennett excelled as a deployed combat airspace manager for a special operations detachment in direct support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He fused conventional and special operations tenets while integrating airpower assets into 10 international strike packages.
Bennett sterilized tactical airspace for 29 special operations raids while developing anti-drone weapon employment safety procedures. Additionally, he secured 3,100 commercial flights through hostile airspace from Turkish and Russian air strikes.
Bennett’s efforts enabled and enhanced kinetic, non-kinetic, and intelligence collection operations throughout Iraq and Syria, which led to the capture of 14 high-value targets and eliminated 94 enemy combatants.
He was awarded the Army’s combat action badge for his role in the coalition preparation and response to the Iranian missile attack on United States bases in Iraq, culminating in a Bronze Star Medal nomination. He received presidential list honors while working on his advanced degree, completed a second Community College of the Air Force degree in Instructor of Technology and Military Science, and garnered the John L. Levitow award upon graduation from the noncommissioned officer academy.
Read more about the other Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2021: