Silver Stars for STS airmen

By JBLM Release on April 27, 2010

Approximately 13 medals will be awarded to Airmen of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, during a ceremony here at 9 a.m. April 29. The medals are being awarded for combat actions during the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the ceremony, Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell will be the first Air Force combat controller to receive two Silver Star medals in a single ceremony. The Silver Star is the nation's third highest decoration for valor.

Staff Sgt. Evan Jones, also a combat controller, will also receive a Silver Star. Both Airmen are being recognized for their actions during firefights against enemy forces in Afghanistan.

Additionally, eight Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts will be presented to the special tactics Airmen during the ceremony presided over by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, Air Force Special Operations Command commander.

AFSOC's combat controllers are battlefield airmen assigned to Air Force special tactics squadrons. They are trained special operations forces and certified FAA air traffic controllers. The mission of a combat controller is to deploy, undetected, into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields, then provide conducting air traffic control and fire support. Special tactics operators' unique capabilities place them in high demand for missions involving command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance.

Their motto, "First There," reaffirms the combat controller's commitment to undertaking the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines by leading the way for other forces to follow.  Since the beginning of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, between 270 and 290 combat controller Airmen have answered their nation's call to duty.  These warrior Airmen have received two Air Force Crosses (one posthumously), nine Silver Stars, and more than 200 Bronze Star Medals with and without the Valor device.