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Dyess colonel awarded Bronze Star

Air Mobility Command News

Release Date: 7/15/2003

By 2nd Lt. Ben Gamble 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AMCNS) - The 317th Airlift Group commander was awarded the Bronze Star recently in a ceremony at a forward operating location.

Col. Richard Johnston received the award for his role as the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing commander in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

"It was a great honor to be presented the Bronze Star," said Colonel Johnston. "(Especially) in the U.S. Embassy of a foreign country. It was a distinct honor."

The 320th moved American military power closer to the fights in Afghanistan and Iraq by transporting eight divisions -- around 80,000 troops -- hauling some 47,000 tons of cargo, flying 17,000 sorties and logging 40,000 flying hours all while simultaneously supporting operations in 12 countries.

"It's gratifying to see someone who worked so hard while deployed earn such a high honor," said Lt. Col. Mark Mcleod, 317th Airlift Group deputy commander for maintenance. "(I) found him to be an out-front leader who flew many missions throughout the region -- to include flying the first combat cargo mission into Iraq early in the war. (He is) a true professional."

Colonel Johnston's best memory of his time overseas is piloting the first U.S. Air Force aircraft to land at an Iraqi airfield after the start of the ground war.

Of his roughly 300 days deployed, Colonel Johnston said he was proud to be a part of "this busy, rewarding and exciting time" in America's history.

"We did it all with no accidents," Colonel Johnston said. "Everything was done completely professionally, and I'm very proud of everybody."

I've got memories that will last a lifetime," he added. "But I'm obviously excited to be back."

With his return, Colonel Johnston said he has some rounds of golf to use that he purchased back in October, and he'll finally have time to spend with his family.

"We are excited to have him home after his six-month command of the 320th AEW," Mcleod said. "The 317th AG will hit new highs under his brand of leadership."

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