Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

January 19, 2012 at 10:49am

McChord Special Tactics Airmen Receive Combat Medals

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Hurlburt Field, FL - More than a dozen Airmen from the same unit were presented eighteen medals recently for meritorious actions in combat.

Fourteen special tactics Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., were presented two Purple Hearts and 14 Bronze Stars, five of which were with Valor.

Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, hosted the ceremony, presenting the medals to 10 combat controllers and four tactical air control party members.

The Bronze Star is awarded in recognition of bravery, heroism and meritorious service during engagement with an armed enemy of the U.S. It is the fourth highest combat honor within the military. The Bronze Star recognizes meritorious service while the Bronze Star with Valor recognizes heroism.

The Purple Heart is awarded to those injured or killed in combat.

Fiel commended the Airmen for tirelessly and humbly sacrificing for their country.

"Whenever I speak with a recipient of one of these awards, I always get the response 'sir, I was just doing my job, just doing what I was trained to do,'" Fiel said. "But the reality is that all of you men do so much more than just 'what you were trained to do.'"

Training is a building block, but these Airmen are not merely being recognized for putting their training into play, he said.

They are being recognized for being leaders in their squadron and examples for the next generation of special tactics Airmen, he said.

They are being recognized for their belief in the mission and for the preparation put into planning their missions and executing them in theater.

They are being recognized because they have strong families standing behind them, Fiel said.

Between them, the Airmen have deployed at least 42 times. Their service resulted in the removal of more than 600 enemy combatants from 2009 to 2011, according to their award citations.

The medal recipients are:

Master Sgt. Christopher Grove - Bronze Star with Valor 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor 5th Oak Leaf Cluster

Master Sgt. Douglas Neville - Bronze Star with Valor

Staff Sgt. Tyler Britton - Bronze Star 1st Oak Leaf Cluster

Staff Sgt. Eric Galvan - Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Mike Kurta - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Christopher Martin - Bronze Star with Valor 1st Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster

Staff Sgt. Sean Mullins - Bronze Star with Valor 1st Oak Leaf Cluster

Staff Sgt. Michael Orlando - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Verne Patterson - Bronze Star with Valor

Staff Sgt. Matthew Riechers - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Jeffery Salazar - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Ryan Sjurson - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Nathan Vogle - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Michael Wilhelm - Purple Heart, Bronze Star 1st Oak Leaf Cluster

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