116 th ASOS Guard Airman named Outstanding Airman of Year

By Tyler Hemstreet on May 3, 2012

After serving for a few years as a Security Forces Air National Guardsman, Senior Airman Michael McCaffrey decided to cross train into the joint terminal attack controller career field.

He wanted a position that got him closer to the front lines of the battlefield, he said.

Serving with the Washington Air National Guard's 116th Air Support Operations Squadron out of Camp Murray, McCaffrey got his wish.

Last year, McCaffrey deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Tactical Control Party to FOB Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan. While embedded with the U.S. Army Task Force Ironman, McCaffrey was responsible for providing close air support ensuring persistent, precise and lethal airpower for troops in contact. While under fire, he helped guide 26 air strikes resulting in 1,250 Coalition Forces lives saved.

For his heroic actions, Guard officials announced recently McCaffrey is one of six Airmen named the 2012 Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen Of The Year.

During one mission on May 25, 2011, McCaffrey and other JTACs from the 116th ASOS directed aerial attacks on enemy positions while U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought to drive insurgents from Do Ab, a tiny village in Nuristan province, Afghanistan.

Throughout a six-hour battle on the mission, JTACs had to dodge bullets and rocket propelled grenades while running between their cover to find out where the greatest threats were coming from and then call in airstrikes on the advancing fighters.

McCaffrey also executed an innovative strategy to employ air power to combat improvised explosive device strikes, resulting in a decrease in attacks.

McCaffrey, who works as a contractor at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., enjoys his job with the 116th ASOS so much, he commutes from California to Washington to be part of the unit.

"Everyone in the (116th ASOS) is committed to the job and loves to train together," said McCaffrey, a Las Vegas, Nev. native who was nominated for a Bronze Star with Valor after the deployment.

McCaffrey will be honored in August in Washington D.C. along with other outstanding members of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active-duty Air Force.