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Troy High School grad awarded DFC for role in rescue

July 5, 2022

Air Force Technical Sergeant Kris Goyen, 37, a 2003 graduate of Troy High School, was recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions in the October 31, 2020, rescue of Philipe Walton, 27, an American citizen living on his farm in Massalata, Niger, West Africa.

Flight engineer Goyen was part of an elite U.S. special operations group that included Air Force, Army, Marine and Navy personnel, including Navy SEAL Team 6.

“U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men,” said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in a media release shortly after thhe rescue. “This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.”

His captors demanded ranson from Walton's father, and the rescue operation involved the governments of the U.S., Niger and Nigeria working together to rescue Walton quickly, as Niger had seen a growing number of similar attacks carried out by extremists with ties to al-Qaida and the ISIS, including a kidnapping two months earlier that ended with six French aid workers and their guide being killed when their demands weren't met.

SEAL Team Six carried out the rescue mission and killed all but one of Walton's captors, according to officials.

“Air Force Technical Sgt. Kristopher W. Goyen distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as CV-22B Special Missions Aviator on Oct. 31, 2020," his citation reads. "This operation was the longest distance hostage rescue conducted under a single period of darkness in Department of Defense history and was completed in 48 hours from the first notification.

“With minimal time prior to departure to develop a thorough plan and account for all contingencies, Sgt. Goyen used all available resources and aided his crew while in flight to solve the complex problem of traversing through desolate airspace and terrain. Without the use of aircraft navigation or cockpit flight displays, Sgt. Goyen assisted in performing a non-standard aerial refueling and executing a night formation landing, guided by his wingman, into marginal weather and visibility conditions.
"After his disabled aircraft landed at a remote base, he rapidly transferred minimum force equipment and an operable weapon to his mission-capable wingman, expediting their departure to support the rescue operation.”

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