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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force has authorized the award of the Defense Department’s Humanitarian Service Medal to airmen who assisted with airdrops of food to hungry Afghans during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Hundreds of airmen assisted in packaging and delivering nearly 2.5 million rations during the mission, according to Master Sgt. Ronald Tull, a spokesman for the Air Force’s Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

The Humanitarian Service Medal has been around since 1977, is awarded to members of the Armed Forces “who distinguish themselves by meritorious direct participation in any significant military act or operation of a humanitarian nature approved by the Department of Defense.”

The awarding of the medal recognizes the food drop and other humanitarian operations that took place from Oct. 7, 2001, to May 31, 2002, Tull said in a Wednesday telephone interview.

To qualify for the medal, airmen must have been assigned or attached to a unit participating in the humanitarian efforts, and they must have directly participated in the relief actions, according to an Air Force message issued July 4.

The unit’s activities must have affected locations within the land area, airspace, or waters of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Gulf of Oman, or the Arabian Sea north of 20 degrees latitude and west of 68 degrees longitude.

Air Force officials also may be awarding the medal to airmen who were working in U.S. or overseas units that are not actually in the places where the humanitarian relief was delivered, but were supporting the OEF operations.

Airmen who think they might qualify for the medal should go to their military personnel flight office and ask for assistance. Useful supporting documents to bring along include temporary duty (TDY) orders; letters, memos or certificates of appreciation; or decorations and citations that verify participation in the humanitarian actions.

Airmen who qualify

Airmen assigned or attached to the following units have been awarded the DOD Humanitarian Service Medal:

• The Combined Air Operations Center, Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia• The Regional Air Movement Control Center, Al Udeid, Qatar• The 437th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany• The 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany• The 351st Air Refueling Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England• The 2nd Space Operations Squadron, Falcon Air Force Base, Colo.• The 315th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, S.C.• The 62nd Airlift Wing, McChord AFB, Wash.• The 446th Airlift Wing, McChord AFB, Wash.

— Source: U.S. Air Force

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