Air University student receives aerial combat medal

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Feest awards Air Command and Staff College student Maj. Ryan Mittelstet the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for his heroism in combat, May 30, 2017. Feest is one of the Eagles for the Gathering of the Eagles 2017. The GOE program brings together aviation heroes and pioneers to share their experiences and provide inspiration to future aviation leaders. Feest was a command pilot with more than 5,600 flying hours, including more than 800 combat hours earned during operations: Just Cause; Desert Storm; Iraqi Freedom; and Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Donna L. Burnett/Released)

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Feest awards Air Command and Staff College student Maj. Ryan Mittelstet the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for his heroism in combat, May 30, 2017. Feest is one of the Eagles for the Gathering of the Eagles 2017. The GOE program brings together aviation heroes and pioneers to share their experiences and provide inspiration to future aviation leaders. Feest was a command pilot with more than 5,600 flying hours, including more than 800 combat hours earned during operations: Just Cause; Desert Storm; Iraqi Freedom; and Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Donna L. Burnett/Released)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Maj. Ryan Mittelstet, Air Command and Staff College student was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during the 2017 Gathering of Eagles event by Retired Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Feest, a GOE honoree.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to individuals who have performed acts of heroism or who have attained extraordinary achievement while in aerial combat.

Mittelstet was awarded the decoration on May 30, 2017 for his service as a CV-22B Air Craft Commander, Joint Special Operations, Air Component-Central, Special Operations Command Central in 2014. 

The citation commended Mittelsted for his ability to plan, brief and rehearse several concepts of operations before executing the highly classified mission into denied territory.  During the executing of the mission, he conducted a long-range, low-level penetration of denied airspace under zero illumination conditions to provide direct action infiltration and exfiltration of military personnel. 

 “Everyone wants to hear they did a good job and is valued by their team,” said Mittelstet. “Receiving a DFC does just that, but it also represents the fact that everyone who was a part of that mission did something that is at a higher level than what is normally accomplished.”

The DFC presentation coincided with the 2017 Gathering of Eagles, an ACSC capstone event that brings pioneers in aviation history to Maxwell to share their experiences with a new generation of leaders. Feest was asked to present the DFC to Mittlestet because 25 years ago he too received the same decoration while studying at ACSC.

Feest served as a command pilot during operations: Just Cause, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Mittelstet noted that it was an honor to have Feest present the decoration and to connect his generation with Air Force combat pilots before him.

Feest said he was honored to be able to return the favor to a future Air Force leader.

“[Mittelstet] is a hero. He’s done a lot in his young career so far, and I look forward to seeing what he does in the future. I’m sure he’s going to do great in command and great things in our Air Force,” said Feest.