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DM awards 2 Rescue Airmen the Bronze Star Medal

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Abbey Rieves
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Two rescue Airmen assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron were awarded a Bronze Star Medal on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., June 7, 2024.

The Bronze Stars were awarded for heroic service in a combat zone.

“Rescue is the promise to always act, to never truly be ‘off’ during the day, the promise to always be ready at a moment’s notice and that’s where these two individuals found themselves in August of 2021,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Mills, 355th Wing commander. “They found themselves in a situation that no one could have seen coming, and they chose to keep that promise. And for that, I say thank you.”  

The recipients were a Capt. combat rescue officer and a Staff Sgt. noncommissioned officer in charge, who supported Operation Allies Refuge from August 15 to August 29, 2021, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

“Facing opposing armed forces while operating in a base under siege, surrounded by hostile enemy forces, exposed to extreme danger, and continuous small arms fire, indirect fire and improvised explosive device attacks,” both the CRO and aircrew flight equipment NCOIC went above the call of duty, their citations read. 

The Capt., who was a 1st Lt. at the time, led nine rescue Airmen over a 36-hour period when 6,000 Afghan civilians, in fear for their life, overran the base. The Staff Sgt. led security teams and escorted multiple aircrews in a 48-hour period, allowing continuous sortie generation for five rescue aircraft and several joint aircraft. 

The CRO provided ground casualty capability for ensuring the safety of 5,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organization personnel and civilians.

The NCOIC managed logistics for 47 high risk rescue and recovery missions in addition to leading 18 convoys outside of the wire, saving the lives of 1,700 American citizens and Afghan nationals. 

During the operation period, an IED caused mass casualties. In response, the CRO took charge of life saving operations while the NCOIC packed wounds and provided medical care. Together they are credited for saving the lives of more than 62 U.S. military members and Afghan civilians, and recovering the bodies of 13 killed-in-action U.S. service members.

“When someone needs protecting, or alone out there beyond enemy lines, that person has nothing to worry about,” said Mills. “Because Rescue is going to bring that person home.”

In performing these and many more heroic actions, the CRO and NCOIC reflected great credit upon themselves and the United States Air Force.