Citation to Accompany the Award ofThe Air Force Cross
Jason D. Cunningham
Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as a pararescueman near the village of Marzak in the Paktia Province of Afghanistan. On 4 March 2002, Airman Cunningham was the primary Air Force Combat Search and Rescue medic assigned to a Quick Reaction Force tasked to recover two American servicemen evading capture in austere terrain occupied by massed Al Qaida and Taliban forces. His MH-47E helicopter received accurate rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire, causing it to crash land. The assault force immediately suffered three fatalities and five critical casualties. Despite effective enemy fire, and at great risk to his own life, Airman Cunningham remained in the burning fuselage of the aircraft in order to treat the wounded. As he moved his patients to a more secure location, mortar rounds began to impact within fifty feet of his position. Disregarding this extreme danger, he continued the movement and exposed himself to enemy fire on seven separate occasions. The second casualty collection point was also compromised. In a display of uncommon valor and gallantry, Airman
Cunningham braved an intense small arms and rocket propelled grenade attack while repositioning the critically wounded to a third collection point. Even after he was mortally wounded and quickly deteriorating, he continued to direct patient movement and transferred care to another medic. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and in the dedication of his service to his country, Airman Cunningham reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.