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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) sent a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett requesting that the Air Force upgrade the medals awarded to Barksdale-based airmen who carried out one of the opening strikes of Operation Desert Storm. Congressman Johnson has asked that the B-52 crews’ Air Medals be upgraded to the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

The letter goes on to state:

“On January 16, 1991, seven B-52 bombers from the 596th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing took off from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana to destroy Iraqi command and control centers, communications facilities, and power generation facilities before returning back to Barksdale. The historic roundtrip mission, officially named Operation Senior Surprise, took 35.4 hours to complete and covered over 14,000 miles. It was a tremendous success that paved the way for continued air superiority for coalition forces throughout Operation Desert Storm. . .

“Given the extraordinary characteristics of the mission and the expertise with which it was flown, I believe a medal upgrade is warranted. As such, I respectfully ask that the recognition of the achievements of these airmen be upgraded from the Air Medal to the Distinguished Flying Cross.”

You can read the text of the letter below and find a signed pdf here.

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November 23, 2020

The Honorable Barbara M. Barrett
Secretary
United States Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330

Dear Secretary Barrett:

As the 30th anniversary of the commencement of Operation Desert Storm approaches, I write to call your attention to the heroism of seven B-52 crews who flew several of the opening sorties of that conflict and respectfully ask that their Air Medal awards be upgraded to the Distinguished Flying Cross.  

On January 16, 1991, seven B-52 bombers from the 596th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing took off from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana to destroy Iraqi command and control centers, communications facilities, and power generation facilities before returning back to Barksdale. 

The historic roundtrip mission, officially named Operation Senior Surprise, took 35.4 hours to complete and covered over 14,000 miles. It was a tremendous success that paved the way for continued air superiority for coalition forces throughout Operation Desert Storm.  

Because Operation Senior Surprise was a classified, one-of-a-kind mission, many of its defining achievements were not widely known until long after the sorties were flown. At the time, Operation Senior Surprise was the longest air combat mission in history, and that record would stand for twelve years. It was also the first time a bomber aircraft conducted a long-range air combat mission launching from its home base and returning to the same base after mission completion.  

These brave airmen set the bar for what the Air Force now proudly calls its Global Strike capability. Through Operation Senior Surprise, the United States made it clear to the world and any potential adversaries that our Air Force can deliver precision munitions anywhere on the planet in a matter of hours. Given the extraordinary characteristics of the mission and the expertise with which it was flown, I believe a medal upgrade is warranted. As such, I respectfully ask that the recognition of the achievements of these airmen be upgraded from the Air Medal to the Distinguished Flying Cross. Thank you for your consideration of this request.  

Sincerely,

Mike Johnson
Member of Congress

MIL OSI USA News