The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Technical Sergeant Chapman distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as an Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controller of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, attached to a Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team conducting reconnaissance operations in Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, on 4 March 2002. During insertion, the team’s helicopter was ambushed causing a teammate to fall into an entrenched group of enemy combatants below. Sergeant Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted onto the snow-capped mountain, into the heart of a known enemy stronghold to rescue one of their own. Without regard for his own safety, Sergeant Chapman immediately engaged, moving in the direction of the closest enemy position despite coming under heavy fire from multiple directions. He fearlessly charged an enemy bunker, up a steep incline in thigh-deep snow and into hostile fire, directly engaging the enemy. Upon reaching the bunker, Sergeant Chapman assaulted and cleared the position, killing all enemy occupants. With complete disregard for his own life, Sergeant Chapman deliberately moved from cover only 12 meters from the enemy, and exposed himself once again to attack a second bunker, from which an emplaced machine gun was firing on his team. During this assault from an exposed position directly in the line of intense fire, Sergeant Chapman was struck and injured by enemy fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, he continued to fight relentlessly, sustaining a violent engagement with multiple enemy personnel before making the ultimate sacrifice. By his heroic actions and extraordinary valor, sacrificing his life for the lives of his teammates, Technical Sergeant Chapman upheld the highest traditions of military service and reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by section 8742 of title 10 U.S.C., awards the Air Force Cross to Staff Sergeant Richard B. Hunter for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller, 23d Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component-Afghanistan in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan from 2 November 2016 to 3 November 2016. During this period, while assigned to a Special Forces team, Sergeant Hunter displayed extraordinary bravery as his team assaulted an insurgent safe haven. As they moved in a narrow alley, Taliban fighters ambushed them with grenade and heavy machine gun fire. With no regard for his own life, Sergeant Hunter placed himself between the enemy and his team, shielding the wounded with his body while providing suppressive fire with his rifle. To allow his team to withdraw from the kill zone, he positioned himself at the rear of the element, closest to the threat to prevent fratricide, and directed multiple danger-close airstrikes to within 20 meters; well inside the 190-meter danger-close distance for 105 millimeter rounds. With the team still under persistent enemy fire, Sergeant Hunter and four teammates cleared a compound to gain cover, preventing further casualties. Upon hearing a call for help, he again exposed himself to fire, rushing outside the compound to drag a wounded teammate 30 meters to safety. For the next two hours he controlled four AC-130U and AH-64D aircraft, continually directing fire on enemy positions, including 105 millimeter rounds to within 13 and 16 meters of his location. He courageously assumed greater risk by occupying the best vantage point to inflict devastating effect on the enemy, preventing the team from being overrun. During exfiltration, he called for airstrikes to suppress heavy enemy fire, and he bravely exposed himself in a field during daylight to mark a landing zone with smoke. Throughout the eight hour assault, Sergeant Hunter alternated between firing his weapon at the enemy and controlling air assets, directing 1,787 munitions in 31 danger-close engagements, most to within 90 meters, resulting in 57 lives saved and 27 enemy killed. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Sergeant Hunter reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Staff Sergeant Robert Gutierrez, Jr., United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States in Heart Province, Afghanistan, on 5 October 2009. On that date, while assigned as a combat controller of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, to an Army Special Forces Detachment, Sergeant Gutierrez and his team conducted a high-risk nighttime raid to capture the number two Taliban leader in the region. During the initial assault, the team was attacked with a barrage of rifle and heavy machine-gun fire from a numerically superior and determined enemy force. Sergeant Gutierrez was shot in the chest, his team leader was shot in the leg, and the ten-man element was pinned down in a building with no escape route. In great pain and confronting the very real possibility that he would die, Sergeant Gutierrez seized the initiative and refused to relinquish his duties as joint terminal attack controller. Under intense fire, he engaged Taliban fighters with his M-4 rifle and brought airpower to bear, controlling three "danger close" A-10 strafing runs with exceptional precision against enemy forces just 30 feet away. After the first A-10 attack, the team medic performed a needle decompression to re-inflate Sergeant Gutierrez's collapsed lung, allowing him to direct the next two strafe runs which decimated the enemy force and allowed the team to escape the kill zone without additional casualties. Throughout the four-hour battle, Sergeant Gutierrez's valorous actions, at great risk to his own life, helped save the lives of his teammates and dealt a crushing blow to the regional Taliban network. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Sergeant Gutierrez reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Technical Sergeant Timothy A. Wilkinson, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a 24th Special Tactics Squadron Pararescueman in the vicinity of the Olympic Hotel, Mogadishu, Somalia, during Operation RESTORE HOPE from 3 October 1993 to 4 October 1993. During that period, in response to an incident in which a United States helicopter had been shot down by a rocket propelled grenade, Sergeant Wilkinson conducted a fast rope insertion into the crash site and came under extremely heavy enemy fire from three directions. In the initial rescue effort, he repeatedly exposed himself to intense small arms fire and grenades to clear debris, provide emergency medical treatment to the survivors, and extract dead and wounded members of the crew from the wreckage. On his own initiative, Sergeant Wilkinson broke cover on three separate occasions to locate and provide emergency medical treatment to three Ranger casualties. In doing so, he ignored all concern for his personal safety to cross a 45 meter-wide open area blanketed with intense fire from small arms, and rocket propelled grenades. Sergeant Wilkinson's medical skills and uncommon valor saved the lives of multiple gravely wounded American soldiers in the longest sustained fire fight involving United States combat forces in over 20 years. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Sergeant Wilkinson reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Senior Airman Zachary J. Rhyner, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States while serving with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, at Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on 6 April 2008. On that date, while assigned as Special Tactics Combat Controller, Airman Rhyner executed a day rotary-wing infiltration with his Special Forces team to capture high-value insurgents in a village on the surrounding mountains. While climbing near vertical terrain to reach their objective, the team was attacked in a well-coordinated and deadly ambush. Devastating sniper, machine gun, and rocket-propelled grenade fire poured down on the team from elevated and protected positions on all sides, immediately pinning down the assault force. Without regard for his life, Airman Rhyner placed himself between the most immediate threats and provided suppressive fire with his M-4 rifle against enemy fire while fellow teammates were extracted from the line of fire. Airman Rhyner bravely withstood the hail of enemy fire to control eight United States Air Force fighters and four United States Army attack helicopters. Despite a gunshot wound to the left leg and being trapped on a 60-foot cliff under constant enemy fire, Airman Rhyner controlled more than 50 attack runs and repeatedly repelled the enemy with repeated danger close air strikes, several within 100 meters of his position. Twice, his actions prevented his element from being overrun during the intense 6 and a half hour battle. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Airman Rhyner reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Staff Sergeant Christopher G. Baradat, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force in Sono Valley, Sheltan District, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 6 April 2013. On that day, while attached to a United States Special Forces Team, Sergeant Baradat displayed extraordinary bravery and complete disregard for his own safety as he and his teammates responded as a quick reactionary force for a pinned down coalition element. Upon notification, Sergeant Baradat, his Special Forces Team and attached Afghan forces sprang into action entering the treacherous Sono Valley, a known sanctuary for Taliban and Al Qaeda militants. As Sergeant Baradat and his team moved through the tight valley on foot, they came under heavy enemy attack as they closed to within 800 meters of the pinned down element. Sergeant Baradat charged through a hail of enemy gunfire, engaging insurgent positions with 30-mm. gun runs from an A-10 aircraft before taking cover in a small compound with a handful of his teammates, approximately 400 meters from the pinned down element. Once in the compound, both ridgelines bordering the valley erupted in gunfire, attacking both Sergeant Baradat's location and that of the pinned down element. As he and his team hunkered down behind cover against the heavy onslaught of enemy firepower, Sergeant Baradat realized he could not effectively communicate with overhead aerial assets from his protected position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Sergeant Baradat moved to the center of the compound into direct enemy fire in order to communicate with orbiting aircraft. Ignoring repeated shouts from his teammate to take cover, over the next three hours Sergeant Baradat calmly directed lethal engagements from A-10 and AC-130 aircraft onto 13 enemy fighting positions consisting of over 100 fighters, while ignoring enemy machine gun rounds impacting all around him, spraying him with dirt. When all friendly forces consolidated and egressed the valley, Sergeant Baradat once again showed incredible bravery when he purposefully jumped onto the running board of the vehicle where he was continuously exposed to enemy fire so he could maintain communications. With rounds again impacting all around him, he continued to control AC-130 and A-10 strikes to destroy the enemy attempting to cut off the coalition forces. Sergeant Baradat's heroic and selfless actions directly resulted in over 50 enemy fighters killed, while saving the lives of over 150 friendly personnel. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Baradat has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star (Army Award) to Technical Sergeant Bradley T. Reilly, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action. Technical Sergeant Reilly distinguished himself by his exceptionally valorous actions as the Combat Controller from the 23d Special Tactics Squadron, 16th Special Operations Wing, assigned to Operational Detachment Alpha 163, Advanced Operational Base 160, forward Operational Base 12, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM VI, on 11 April 2005. On that date, the detachment responded to a no-notice air Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in direct support of an Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) ambush. The target was General Khil Baz, the new Border Battalion Commander. The Khowst-Gardez pass (ambush site) is extremely rugged terrain and is a historical ACM ambush site. The detachment loaded two UH-60 aircraft; Technical Sergeant Reilly was in the second aircraft. Upon arrival at the ambush site the detachment was pointed in the direction of ACM egress. Once the aircraft flew over the area, the detachment was able to identify the suspected ACM. Technical Sergeant Reilly's aircraft landed and immediately began receiving a high rate of effective machine gun and small arms fire. The detachment returned fire and assaulted uphill to the enemy position, again while under heavy effective enemy machine-gun fire. The detachment overran the enemy machine gun position through the use of small arms, fragmentary grenades, and 40-mm. grenade fire. Once the detachment secured the enemy position, they began to receive an additional high rate of effective fire from three sides. The ACM forces were extremely close, well supplied, well trained, and dedicated, allowing them to sustain effective fires against the detachment. The majority of enemy fire was coming from down an extremely steep cliff. Immediately Master Sergeant Cooper and Technical Sergeant Reilly assaulted down the cliff in the direction of fire. During the assault, Master Sergeant Cooper was critically wounded in both legs and Technical Sergeant Reilly were pinned down approximately 100 meters down the cliff and isolated from additional detachment members. Even though Technical Sergeant Reilly was shot, he continued to return fire. During the lulls in the heavy machine gun fire, Technical Sergeant Reilly treated Master Sergeant Cooper's wounds, saving his life, and continued to control the rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft, control fires against the enemy forces (2 x AH-64's, 2 @ A-10's, and 2 x UH-60's). After the AH 64's departed the area, the still motivated enemy attempted to overrun Technical Sergeant Reilly and Master Sergeant Cooper's position. Technical Sergeant Reilly, additional detachment members, and a UH-60 provided suppressing fires to the advancing enemy forces, forcing them to retreat to cover ending up approximately 50 meters from Staff Sergeant Day, Master Sergeant Cooper, and Technical Sergeant Reilly's position. Technical Sergeant Reilly provided lifesaving medical care, controlled aircraft fires, and provided suppressive fires for approximately three hours while being wounded. Throughout this time, they were still receiving effective machine gun fire. At one point, he was willing to have all other USSF move back up hill and call in A-10 ordnance danger close to his position (200 Meters) to save other lives. Due to the stand-alone actions of Technical Sergeant Reilly, his medical expertise, marksmanship skills, and proficiency for controlling aircraft, Master Sergeant Cooper is alive today. The distinctive and lifesaving actions of Technical Sergeant Reilly reflects great credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Staff Sergeant Sean R. Harvell, United States Air Force, for gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States near Garm Ab Village and Kajaki Sofia, Afghanistan, on 8 May 2007 and 30 May 2007. During this period, while performing duties as a Combat Controller, 22d Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, 1st Expeditionary Special Operations Group, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component, Special Operations Command Central in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Sergeant Harvell selflessly and conspicuously risked his life during two engagements while under heavy enemy fire to establish contact with fighter aircraft and direct the surgical employment of lethal air power against an overwhelming enemy. In the first engagement, Sergeant Harvell and his team risked destruction from a relentless enemy attack and subsequent ambush while on reconnaissance patrol. Sergeant Harvell, cognizant of his team's precarious situation and increasing casualties in the face of debilitating enemy attacks, deliberately exposed his position to orchestrate close air support, enable an HH-60 medical evacuation and cover the exfiltration of his nine-vehicle convoy and team over a ten-hour period. Completely enveloped by enemy fire and at great personal risk, he calmly directed air attacks, destroying multiple Taliban positions and saving the lives of his teammates. Later, in the middle of a devastating ambush, he again exposed himself to heavy enemy fire from as close as five meters and directed F-18 strafing runs within a mere 45 feet of his position to rout enemy insurgents. On 30 May 2007, while attempting the recovery of a downed CH-47 helicopter and United States Army aircrew, he was wounded and knocked unconscious by a rocket propelled grenade fired by Taliban militants in a daring daylight ambush. Regaining consciousness and bleeding from multiple wounds, Sergeant Harvell engaged Taliban fighters with his personal M-4 carbine, M-12 shotgun and then grenades while simultaneously directing deadly, danger-close air attacks on the insurgent force, effectively neutralizing all enemy threats to his team and allowing another special operations team to recover the remains of all service members and sensitive equipment from the crash site. During these two days of fierce fighting, his expertise in the employment of air power and selfless service resulted in the death of 212 enemy combatants and release of 18,000 pounds of aviation ordnance. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Harvell has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Technical Sergeant Andrew I. Martin, United States Air Force, for gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States while serving with the 23d Special Tactics Squadron near Shahi Kot, Eastern Afghanistan, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, from 27 February 2002 to 4 March 2002. During this period, while attached to an elite Navy Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Team as the sole Special Tactics Combat Control Operator, he performed all radio communications, tactical reconnaissance, and close air support responsibilities during Operation ANACONDA against Al Qaeda forces in the rugged mountains of Eastern Afghanistan. Sergeant Martin was a key member of a five-man sniper team during this sustained special operation that located and identified countless and previously unseen enemy fortifications, ground patrols, and fighting positions throughout the Shahi Kot Valley region of Afghanistan. His elite team achieved overwhelming operational effects on the battlefield completely out of proportion to its small size. He scaled an eleven-thousand-foot peak carrying over one hundred pounds of equipment, traversing over nineteen kilometers of the most precipitous landscape the continent has to offer. Approaching the target area, he spotted a large-caliber automatic weapons position manned by four enemy personnel. Under an incoming hail of enemy fire, his team assaulted the fortified position eliminating two enemy fighters with surgical rifle fire. Anticipating enemy contact, Sergeant Martin pre-briefed the AC-130 gunship with a fire mission and within seconds had eliminated the remaining enemy force. From his newly conquered dominating land feature, Sergeant Martin called in a storm of close air support fire on a multitude of targets staged in offensive positions overlooking the alley below. In a second enemy fire fight engagement Sergeant Martin was credited with five confirmed kills during an hour-long battle supporting a friendly force under attack. Sergeant Martin faced death from torturous terrain, the debilitating effects of high-altitude exposure and extreme cold weather, he survived two direct mortar attacks, and successfully executed two armed assaults of Al Qaeda positions, killing the enemy at close range. The strategic significance of the devastation Sergeant Martin delivered upon the enemy is beyond assessment. By conservative estimates his team killed between thirty to fifty enemy fighters. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Martin has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Jeffrey W. Bray, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Mogadishu, Somalia, from 3 October 1993 to 4 October 1993. On these dates, Staff Sergeant Bray, a 24th Special Tactics Squadron Combat Controller, was attached to a joint service search and rescue security team tasked to respond to the crash of a United States UH-60 helicopter. While serving with a U.S. Army Ranger element trapped and surrounded inside a building in the city, Staff Sergeant Bray coordinated helicopter gunship fire on targets all around his position throughout the night. He developed tactics and techniques on the spot that allowed him to mark friendly forces' locations so that helicopter gunships could destroy close enemy concentrations. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Staff Sergeant Bray has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Master Sergeant Scott C. Fales, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Mogadishu, Somalia, from 3 October 1993 to 4 October 1993. On these dates, Sergeant Fales, a 24th Special Tactics Squadron Pararescueman, was attached to a joint service search and rescue security team tasked to respond to the crash of a United States UH-60 helicopter. While conducting an initial assessment at the crash site, Sergeant Fales was seriously wounded in an intense fire fight involving small arms and rocket propelled grenades. Disregarding the trauma of his own wound, he continued to provide medical care to his team and provide devastating covering fire against repeated enemy attacks. Sergeant Fales' technical expertise, personal courage and total disregard for his own personal safety were paramount to the ultimate success of the search and rescue security team mission. His decisive actions in providing expert trauma care to wounded members of his team despite his own wounded condition were paramount in limiting the number of American casualties and in bringing the extraction operation to conclusion as expeditiously as possible. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Fales has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Senior Airman Caleb D. Heidelberg, United States Air Force, for gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States as a Combat Control Journeyman, 22d Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, 1st Expeditionary Special Operations Group, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component, Special Operations Command Central, on 28 July 2008. On that date, in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, Airman Heidelberg and his Army Special Forces and Afghanistan National Security Forces team conducted a mounted combat reconnaissance patrol. As members of the patrol dismounted to clear a vegetated area, they were ambushed within 10 meters by enemy insurgent forces employing heavy and effective small-arms and mortar fire, injuring all of the dismounted team. Cognizant of the grave danger faced by his reconnaissance teammates, Airman Heidelberg exposed himself to extensive enemy fire while repositioning his vehicle to provide cover for his wounded comrades. With continued disregard for his own safety, he then stationed himself forward of the vehicle and suppressed the enemy with his squad automatic weapon, thereby allowing his vehicle's gunner to climb to the mounted turret, clear the jammed automatic grenade launcher and put fire on the enemy. Realizing wounded members of his patrol were still exposed and in mortal danger, Airman Heidelberg willfully and unhesitatingly moved from the cover and protective fire of his position and ran toward them. Exposing himself again to heavy enemy fire, Airman Heidelberg carried a seriously wounded Afghan soldier back to the protection of the vehicle. As the fight continued, he brilliantly directed a complex air-ground battle to destroy the enemy with AH-64 strafing attacks and bombs dropped from B-1 and F-15 aircraft. Additionally, he simultaneously directed four helicopter sorties to both evacuate the wounded and replenish a critically low supply of ammunition. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Airman Heidelberg has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Senior Airman Forrest B. Sibley distinguished himself by heroism as a Combat Controller, 23d Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component Afghanistan, while engaged in ground combat against an enemy of the United States from 19 December 2012 to 21 December 2012. During this period, Airman Sibley served as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller for an Army Special Forces Team. His team was conducting a combined large scale and high-risk mission with Afghan Commandos in a key valley in central Kunar Province. Throughout the three-day operation, while consistently under fire, Airman Sibley controlled 60 fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Throughout three separate troops in contact situations, he was responsible for the expenditure of 6,000 pounds of ordinance, over 6,500 rounds of fixed and rotary wing munitions, and 24 high explosive rockets. During the most intense firefight, Airman Sibley was pinned down with his teammates and being engaged from three fortified enemy locations within 200 meters. While rounds peppered his position and rocket propelled grenades impacted within 10 feet, he repeatedly came out from behind cover to mark enemy positions and engage with his personal weapon while simultaneously de-conflicting and controlling up to 18 aircraft overhead. All the while, he was directing gun runs from both fixed and rotary attack aircraft laying down fire in danger close range to his and other friendly locations. In total, he provided terminal attack guidance for 36 separate air to ground engagements and was responsible for 16 enemy fighters killed in action. By his heroic actions and unselfish dedication to duty, Airman Sibley has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.