- Mark T. Adams
The President takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to First Lieutenant Mark T. Adams for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as co-pilot, KC-135R, Task Force 24, Task Force Sword at a classified location on 19 October 2001. On that date. Lieutenant Adams and the crew of Python 51 were the lead crew launched in support of the first concentrated airborne special operations assault of Operation Enduring Freedom and employed the first KC-135s as receivers in combat since Operation Just Cause. Using night vision goggles, with minimum exterior lighting and communications out procedures, the crew repeatedly on-loaded fuel from sister KC-135’s and off-loaded the fuel to aircraft at extremely low altitudes well below the surrounding terrain. Upon entering the area, the crew spotted anti-aircraft artillery tracer rounds and heard via radio of a surface-to-air missile launch two miles east of their track. With complete disregard for their safety, the crew elected to remain on the planned air-refueling track, guaranteeing accomplishment of this highest priority mission. By monitoring secure radio transmissions, the crew realized that the air refuelings required significant alteration to acommodate timing changes in the Special Operations forces mission execution checklist. Under the threat of constant fire, Lieutenant Adams flew the airplane as the aircraft commander helped orchestrate the successful refueling changes for over four dozen aircraft. The crew flew an astounding fifteen hours and proved key in enabling the Special Operations Forces to complete one hundred percent of the airdrops and critical close air support for the insertion of the first ground forces into Afghanistan. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Adams reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.