TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Peters, 60th Healthcare Operations Squadron emergency medical technician, was selected as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2022. While deployed to Hamid Karzai International Airport in support of Operation Allies Refuge in 2021, his tactical resolve made up the bulk of his award citation, according to Peters.
Operational communications identified nine critically injured service members located across the flight line in the aftermath of the mass casualty event which occurred in August 2021, Peters recalled. As result of this same incident, it was later reported 13 service members were killed in action.
Peters immediately jumped into action. “I was with a four-member team, where we had to go and extract patients,” Peters said. “All of that, during the chaos … we’re still on lockdown, still having incoming [projectiles].”
According to his Commendation Medal citation, Peters teamed up with a U.S. Army medic and two pararescuemen to locate the wounded service members while dodging enemy fire.
The team securely transported the injured service members to the treatment facility.
“Nine patients came back. They all survived,” Peters said.
In the chaotic aftermath, Peters and his teammates realized many evacuated families had become separated from their family members.
“We had a lot of children who were separated (from their families) or couldn’t get on a plane,” Peters said.
In the meantime, he worked hand in hand with his team to provide shelter, food, and entertainment to evacuees to ease the tension while his teammates coordinated flights in the background.
“We ended up finding a flight strictly for orphans and displaced family members,” Peters said.
Travis AFB’s 60th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron came to the rescue and was able to assist with evacuating orphans and displaced family members. That flight was the big break they were all hoping for, according to Peters. The flight took the evacuees to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, to be processed appropriately.
When Peters returned from his deployment, word of his actions spread to his leadership.
“A lot of the people who deployed with me were the driving force on it,” Peters said. After earning a string of awards, including the Air Force Medical Service Airman of the Year and 60th Medical Group Airman of the Year, his leadership eventually told him their intent to put him up for the 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year award.
“I appreciate the experience; it’s humbling,” Peters said. “Inside the Air Force, I’ve had an incredible support system as far as leadership and mentors,” he said.