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Nov 18, 2022 3:05:54 PM

16th Annual Angels of the Battlefield Awards Gala


Oldest Military Support Organization Founded on Civil War Battlefields Awards Active Duty Heroes Saving Lives of Service Members and Civilians Around the World

Woodbridge, Va. (November 17, 2022) - The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), the oldest military support organization in the United States, “Strengthening Our Military Family®” since 1861, honored six military first responders during its 16th Annual Angels of the Battlefield Awards media event. Presented by USAA and American Airlines, the ASYMCA also awarded two Angels of Honor, former Senator Elizabeth Dole, Founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and Dr. Sally Ann Zoll, CEO of United Through Reading, at the evening gala.

“This event is the highlight of our year, and we are so happy we are able to honor these amazing Angels of the Battlefield,” noted William French, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), President and Chief Executive Officer, Armed Services YMCA. “This year has been even more special being able to also celebrate our two Angels of Honor, Senator Elizabeth Dole and Dr. Sally Ann Zoll, who have significantly contributed to strengthening military families.”

Held at The Renaissance Arlington Capital View, the evening gala was emceed by NBC News Correspondent, Sam Brock. The 2022 Angels of the Battlefield honorees represented five service branches and the Defense Health Agency, a department of the Department of Defense. Three honorees were instrumental in the medical and security response following the bombing at Kabul Airport in August 2021 during the evacuation of Afghan refugees; one helped to save migrants stranded at sea; and two others jumped into action to save civilians, including a law enforcement officer, involved in motor vehicle crashes.

“Thank you for this tremendous honor, Armed Services YMCA,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “Medical personnel and first responders share in the most selfless acts of service – risking your own safety and drawing on your dedicated training to save the lives of others. It is in the stories of our battlefield angels, where I see the majesty of our beloved nation, our capacity for both strength and compassion, and the finest examples of selflessness and courage our country has ever known.”

The Armed Services YMCA was founded by volunteers who braved the Civil War battlefields to provide care and comfort to troops. Its Angels of the Battlefield Awards pays tribute to that history by honoring active duty military who serve as combat medics, corpsmen, and other medical and rescue personnel representing five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, in addition to once civilian paramedic as part of the Defense Health Agency. Today, the organization provides care and comfort to junior enlisted military families through no- or low-cost programs and direct services, specifically designed to help them navigate the challenges of military life.

“I am grateful to the Armed Services YMCA for the Angel of Honor Award. Being regarded in the same light as these young heroes is something to cherish, and serving families like theirs with United Through Reading alongside the Armed Services YMCA has been a joy,” added Dr. Sally Ann Zoll.

The 2022 Angels of the Battlefield for unparalleled courage, selfless actions, and exceptional service are:

    Combat Medic Audriana R. Chenault contributed to the evacuation of over 120,000 refugees and the security of thousands of American Soldiers while forward deployed in support of the operation. Every day during the two weeks of the operation, she was on the front lines with the mortars Platoon helping to secure the southern portion of the Kabul Airport, while also being used as a Battalion asset to help search the Afghan locals at the airport terminal. One night while at the airport, the access point was close to being overrun. SGT Chenault was part of the first line of defense that helped ensure it was not overrun, in addition to providing aid to over 20 female casualties and helping with the search efforts. Her commitment directly led to the overall success of the entire operation.
  • PETTY OFFICER SECOND CLASS BRAYDEN C. BENSON, HOSPITAL CORPSMAN | U.S. MARINE CORPS (HONOREE): Navy Hospital Corpsman Benson was part of a team on the ground during the evacuation from Afghanistan on a Noncombatant Evacuation Operation mission in August 2021. He screened refugees and treated numerous men, women, and children attempting to flee the country as the Taliban assumed control while also escorting many to safety. HM2 Benson was also on duty when a Person-Borne Improvised Explosive Device detonated, killing and wounding over 200 people. As the senior enlisted medical professional on scene, he established and ran the Casualty Collection Point at the Abbey Gate, receiving the first set of casualties within minutes of the blast and providing aid through the aftermath.
  • CHIEF PETTY OFFICER JUSTIN P. FISH, HOSPITAL CORPSMAN | U.S. NAVY: One day while at home, Chief Justin Fish dove into action when a vehicle accident happened on a nearby, dangerous highway in Twentynine Palms, CA. One vehicle had a child trapped underneath. HMC Fish enlisted bystanders in lifting the vehicle to put the child out and immediately began assessing the child’s life-threatening injuries and provided medical aid until EMS arrived. The child did not survive, and in tribute to her life, HMC Fish helps to maintain her roadside memorial.
    Senior Airman Krapf was deployed to the Hamid Karzai International Airport Mission in Afghanistan as the sole Respiratory Care Practitioner for the 455th Expeditionary Medical Group. She was integral to the medical support, mission planning, and execution of enroute critical care flights for the 124,000 refugee evacuation movement, guiding the urgent triage and medical interventions of 258 injured coalition and civilian patients and delivered care. SrA Krapf was a critical asset in the emergency response to 68 patients after two suicide bombings which ensured the preservation and successful evacuation of 55 patients including the honorable care of 13 U.S. service members killed in action, while also working with joint service teams for medical evacuation efforts of 1,250 injured refugees through 68 successful aircraft launches.
  • PETTY OFFICER SECOND CLASS CHRISTIAN ORTEGA-SANTIAGO, HEALTH SERVICES TECHNICIAN | U.S. COAST GUARD: In January 2022, Health Services Technician Christian Ortega-Santiago was one of two Spanish speakers among his crew when they received a distress call as they were underway on the CGC Glen Harris off the coast of Africa. As the translator, he learned there were two small boats in the area holding over 100 refugee migrants including children in danger, with several hanging off the sides in the cold Arctic water. HS2 Ortega-Santiago quickly established triage stations, organized available resources, and directed the medical response to save the migrants, two of whom were critically ill and one requiring lifesaving medical intervention. HS2 Ortega-Santiago provided timely and skillful medical interventions in an extremely challenging maritime environment that included low visibility conditions, rough seas at night, and low temperatures.
  • JAMES P. JACOBS, PARAMEDIC | U.S. DEFENSE HEALTH AGENCY: Mr. James “Patrick” Jacobs volunteered to respond to a motor vehicle crash after his shift had ended at Eglin Air Force Base, once he learned that county EMS was understaffed. There were two vehicles involved, including a law enforcement officer and K-9 police dog, who needed several lifesaving procedures on site. He then directed treatment for a mother and her four children returning home from saying goodbye at the airport to their husband and father heading overseas for deployment, helping to transport them to the hospital. Jacobs called his wife to drive to the hospital to assist with the children until other family arrived.

Each year the Armed Services YMCA serves nearly 150,000 military services members, spouses and children and delivers more than 2 million points of service through its 12 Branches and 24 Affiliate Partners. Since the pandemic, the ASYMCA has distributed more than five million pounds of food primarily to junior enlisted ranks. To learn more about how the ASYMCA is "Strengthening Our Military Family®,” visit


Visit our Youtube Channel to watch the 2022 Angels tell their incredible stories in their own words:

Watch Their Stories