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US military officers awarded for longest distance night rescue of hostage in Nigeria

US military officers awarded for longest distance night rescue of hostage in Nigeria
January 22
13:51 2023

Five United States airmen have been awarded for partaking in the longest-distance nighttime hostage rescue mission in US military history.

In 2020, the airmen reportedly flew about 2,000 miles from Rota, Spain to rescue an American held hostage by a group of armed men in northern Nigeria.

The hostage was said to be 27-year-old Philip Walton, an American citizen living in Massalata, a small rural village in Niger near the Nigerian border.

He had been abducted by a group of six armed gunmen.

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According to a statement by the US military, the successful operation was the longest distance hostage rescue conducted during the night in the history of the US department of defence. It was completed within 48 hours of their initial notification.

Two airmen received the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross, three others received the air medal for their heroic aerial flight and aerial support.

Phillip Stewart, 19th air force commander and presiding officer, said he is extraordinarily proud that their mission ended so well.

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“The asymmetric advantage of America at war is our people, our great warriors,” he said.

On his part, Kyle Konkolics, one of the award recipients, shared his thoughts on receiving the award.

“I’m very honoured and very humbled to be recognised with this award. There were a lot of great people on that mission who are very deserving as well,” said Konkolics.

“Being recognised personally is amazing, but most importantly getting that American citizen back is what I feel great about.”

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