Contingency response airman receives the national Commemorative Cross for International Cooperation operations decoration

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Cassidy Fisher
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On June 3, Maj. Justin Simmons, 621st Contingency Response Wing senior intelligence officer, received the national Commemorative Cross for International Cooperation operations from the Italian Air Force for his work as the chief of the coalition coordination cell under U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

From April to October 2022, Simmons served as AFCENT’s liaison officer to each of the coalition’s air component senior national representatives, supporting 17 nation’s air components in Defeat Daesh operations and other U.S. Central Command’s priorities.

Simmons worked the spectrum called of an officer from administrative work to tactical operations. He coordinated coalition distinguished visitor visits within the theater, worked acquisition and contracting support agreements for facilities geared toward life support of foreign service members while on U.S. military installations such as base access, meals and lodging. Additionally, he onboarded coalition units and aircraft into the air component.

An air component’s purpose is to deliver coalition combat air power to stabilize the region.

“It was akin to being a commander, first sergeant and watch floor member,” Simmons said. “You had to know the right resource to apply to a coalition member’s challenges or problems.”

Simmons had the unique opportunity to work closely with the Italian Air Force for this deployment. He facilitated Italian Air Force participation and coordination into a 16-nation bomber task force, exemplifying deterrence by way of coalition operations. He also coordinated USAF and Italian Air Force information sharing at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait when Italian communications briefly went down, keeping both forces in the loop.

Simmons’ previous deployment as an air advisor under the multinational military advisory group - Iraq under Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve proved useful for this tasking.

“We’re far more effective working together,” Simmons said. “We have different expertise and tools. There’s more than just one way to approach a challenge.”

According to the decoration’s citation, “in 2017, Italy established the national Commemorative Cross for international Cooperations to bestow the military and civilian personnel of the Ministry of Defense, the Italian Red Cross, as well as by selected foreign personnel, deserving of the Italian State, who have participated in internal cooperation operations with local government authorities outside the national territory, in countries that have been affected by conflicts, socio-political unrest, or have been assigned to ‘command and control’ offices or logistical support of the operation.”

“My goal during this deployment was to further build partnerships and teams which was immensely rewarding and its humbling be recognized for those contributions,” Simmons said