C-130J Hit by Enemy Fire in Afghanistan

C-130J Hit by Enemy Fire in Afghanistan

September 16, 2023

C-130 Pilot Awarded DistinguishedFlying Cross

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Mission into Kunduz

This week Major Chris “Chewy” Richardson joins the Afterburn Podcast. What should have been a relatively routine mission turned into a harrowing mission for Major Chris “Chew” Richardson on 19 September 2020.  On ingress to a remote forward operating base in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, Major Richardson’s C-130J Hercules aircraft came under effective enemy fire, resulting in the injury and incapacitation of one of his loadmasters, Staff Sargent Jade Morin.

Due to the criticality of the mission, Major Richardson elected to attempt a second approach after ensuring SSgt Morin was stabilized and the aircraft appeared to be operating normally.  However, the aircraft experienced an additional malfunction on the second approach, forcing them to abort the approach.   Hear or watch the full story on episode 78 of the Afterburn Podcast.


"We got shot at by a PKM, which is a Russian-made heavy machine gun,"

SSgt Morin wounded from enemy fire in the back of C-130J in Afghanistan
SSgt Morin

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Distinguished Flying Cross Citation

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Major Christopher D. Richardson for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as C-130J pilot and Aircraft Commander near Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, on 19 September 2020. During this period, Major Richardson's exemplary knowledge and outstanding airmanship, displayed under extremely hazardous conditions, culminated in his successful ingress of a forward operating base and transport of the Theater Response Force in support of joint operations. On initial ingress, the aircraft received effective enemy fire resulting in the incapacitation of a crew member, forcing the aircraft to exit the engagement zone using evasive maneuvers. Once clear of the threat, Major Richardson evaluated the injured crewmember and ensured he received proper medical treatment. Simultaneously, he coordinated with command and control agencies regarding damage caused by the small arms fire in the fuselage. Major Richardson rapidly assessed the feasibility of a second landing, weighing the risk of threat exposure and the condition of the injured crew member. Based on the critical nature of the mission, he opted to attempt another approach. On the second ingress, the aircraft experienced further malfunctions due to significant damage to critical flight controls, forcing a return to Bagram Airfield. Major Richardson safely landed the damaged aircraft and coordinated reception of the injured crewmember. He and his crew swapped to another aircraft, and quickly launched to continue the mission. His courage while under extreme risk resulted in the successful airlift of the response force to complete the vital Joint Operation. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Major Richardson reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.