Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

January 19, 2011 at 1:02pm

Purple Hearts for 2 airmen injured in war zone

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This from Air Force Times: A security forces officer and a joint terminal attack controller injured in Afghanistan each received the Purple Heart on Wednesday from the Air Force's top officer.

More than 300 airmen looked on as Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented the honor to Capt. Gil Wyche and Senior Airman Brandon Cullen Towle during a visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Wyche, a security forces officer assigned to the 966th Air Expeditionary Squadron, received shrapnel wounds during an insurgent attack on his base in Jalalabad in mid-November. Fighters using small arms and grenades rushed the perimeter of Forward Operating Base Fenty. Despite the wounds, Wyche and his team repelled the attack.

"We knew where we were going and we knew it was a hotbed," Wyche, deployed from RAF Lakenheath, England, said in a news release. "But, nothing can prepare you until the bullets actually start flying, grenades start getting thrown on top of you, and you start firing back. My guys responded very well."

Towle, a JTAC assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, was working out at the gym at FOB Connolly in Nangarhar province in early January when an indirect-fire round exploded near him. Shrapnel pierced his upper thigh. He ran to cover in a bunker, where medics treated the wounds.

Towle then began calling in airstrikes that helped end the assault.

"This wasn't the first time these guys attacked us," said Towle, who is in the fifth month of his six-month deployment from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. "I just wanted to eliminate the threat once and for all."

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