MSgt. Jason D. Payne, a combat control craftsman with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Field, N.C., is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2013. Payne deployed most recently as the sole combat controller with a 50-man Navy SEAL team in Afghanistan, directing close air support during 31 high-risk missions with zero losses. He helped conduct operations that led to the killing or capturing of 44 enemy fighters. He participated in a successful rescue of a US hostage that required quietly infiltrating an insurgent stronghold after a grueling six-mile journey and then guiding shooters onto enemy positions and personally killing seven enemy fighters. During one mission, he stood exposed in open terrain to survey and secure a hot landing zone to quickly evacuate a wounded SEAL. Payne also served with a national crisis response force where he was the lead combat controller with an elite special operations forces team. His home of record is Pensacola, Fla. The Daily Report is shining the spotlight on each OAY in the days up to AFA’s Air & Space Conference that starts on Sept. 16 in National Harbor, Md. AFA will honor these airmen there. Also featured to date:
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.