Four Air Commandos featured in Portraits in Courage for bravery

  • Published
  • By Raquel Sanchez
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs
Four Air Force Special Operations Command Airmen were among 22 honorees selected from around the Air Force to be featured in Portraits in Courage, a program that highlights the bravery, commitment, teamwork and selfless sacrifice of America's Airmen.

Master Sgt. Ronnie Brickey, United States Air Force Special Operations School Force Protection Branch NCO-in-charge at Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Master Sgt. Delorean Sheridan, 21st Special Tactics Squadron combat controller at Pope Army Air Field, N.C.; and Tech. Sgt. Michael Blout and Staff Sgt. Kyle Fulton, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron combat controllers at Hurlburt Field, Fla., were featured in the eighth volume of the publication.

To date, the Air Force has recognized 175 Airmen through this project. In the newest issue, AFSOC had more Airmen recognized than any other command.

"An honor of this magnitude reflects phenomenal bravery and leadership on the battlefield," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander. "We are proud to see their selfless acts of courage recognized. It takes an uncommon spirit to put yourself in direct danger to protect our nation and that's what being a warrior and an Air Commando is all about."

Master Sgt. Ronnie Brickey

Brickey is credited for actions taken as an explosive ordnance disposal technician in Afghanistan May 31 and June 1, 2011. On the first day he identified a victim-operated, pressure plate improvised explosive device, saving the life of another EOD technician.

The next day, Brickey protected his team during a 40-minute firefight by posting himself next to the IED to prevent accidental detonation. During this time, he repeatedly exposed himself to direct fire and returned fire on the enemy to help make a safe evacuation path for his team.

For his actions, Brickey was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor making him the fifth Airman in Air Force history to receive five or more Bronze Star Medals.

Brickey attributed the honor of being selected for Portraits in Courage to the men that served alongside him.

"I'm humbled and don't think I can properly articulate my true feelings," said Brickey. "When I receive this kind of recognition, my mind is immediately distracted by the men I've served alongside with and called my brothers who aren't with us anymore and how much more deserving they are to be here than me."

Master Sgt. Delorean Sheridan

In March 2013, Sheridan was preparing for a mission in Afghanistan when an Afghan National Police Officer opened fire from a machine gun at 25 feet. A group of about 20 insurgents also opened fire on the team from outside the base at the same time.

While under fire, Sheridan dragged his wounded teammates out of the line of fire. He also coordinated airstrikes and called in six medevac flights to help transport his wounded teammates helping to save 23 lives. Sheridan was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery.

For Sheridan, it was an honor to be selected for Portraits in Courage especially alongside his fellow combat controllers.

"It's an honor to be able to represent Special Tactics and AFSOC in this capacity and humbling to do it alongside Tech. Sgt. Blout and Staff Sgt. Fulton, who are both stellar combat controllers," said Sheridan.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Blout

During a high-risk combat operation in October 2012, Blout and his team entered Chak Valley, a known hotbed of insurgent activity in Afghanistan. The team split in two and while on patrol one team was ambushed. Blout placed himself between his teammates and the nearby enemy force. While returning fire, he coordinated a medevac flight and airstrike support on the enemy.

Blout's courage under fire and airstrike coordination prevented the loss of a coalition aircraft and kept a friendly position from being overrun. He earned a Silver Star for his gallantry.

Being recognized in Portraits in Courage was an honor, said Blout.

"I know that any of my teammates would have done the same thing if they were in my situation," he said. "One of the great things about being part of the Special Tactics career field is that you are constantly surrounded by the best and brightest the Air Force has to offer."

Staff Sgt. Kyle Fulton

Fulton helped integrate airpower in support of coalition ground forces at an Air Base in Afghanistan in December 2012. He and his team discovered that insurgents had breached an entry point and were engaged in a firefight with special operations forces defending the gap in the base's perimeter wall.

During an intense gunfight, Fulton and a teammate prevented insurgents from attempting to storm the breach. They took cover behind a vehicle and engaged the enemy with 40mm grenades, preventing their position from being overrun. Moments later, Fulton was injured by an enemy grenade that detonated close by. While injured, he continued to focus on directing aircraft onto remaining enemy positions.

Fulton and his teammates protected the base and allowed friendly elements to evacuate their wounded. Fulton has been nominated for the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions.

The stories of all this year's honorees are featured on the Air Force Portraits in Courage website.

Editor's note: Brickey and Blout have been promoted since the time of their nomination for Portraits in Courage.