Special Tactics Airmen to receive high medals of valor
|Pope Army Airfield, N.C. -- One U.S.
Air Force Special Tactics Airman from 21st Special Tactics Squadron,
24th Special Operations Wing, will receive the Air Force Cross, and two
Special Tactics Airman, 21 STS, will receive the Silver Star for
courageous actions during a 48-hour battle against nearly 100
insurgents in Afghanistan while embedded with a U.S. Army Special
Forces team, here May 6, 2015.
ceremony, officiated by U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold,
commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, will take place at
10 a.m. on Pope Army Airfield, and will include special remarks from
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Sean A. Pybus, deputy commander of Special
Operations Command, and U.S. Army Capt. Evan Lacenski, 7th Group
Special Forces, Special Forces team leader for the three Combat Controllers.
These Special Tactics Combat Controllers are credited with saving the lives of 38 coalition soliders
when ammo was low and nearly 100 insurgents surged to capture the team.
Senior Airman Dustin Temple will receive the Air Force Cross, and Tech.
Sgt. Matthew Greiner and Senior Airman Goodie Goodman (pictured left) will receive the
Temple is one of seven Airmen to
receive the second highest valor award in the global war on terror.
This is the second battle in the last 15 years of U.S. Air Force
history that has resulted in multiple decorations of the highest valor.
Air Force Cross is the highest service-specific medal an Airman can
receive, second only to the Medal of Honor. The Silver Star is the U.S.
military’s third highest military decoration for valor.
An award for valor second only to the Medal of Honor will go to a Fort Bragg airman next week.
Airman Dustin H. Temple will receive the Air Force Cross for
extraordinary heroism while pitted against enemy fighters in Helmand
province, Afghanistan, in September.
Temple is a member of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, based at Pope Field.
Two other members of the squadron, all Combat Controllers, also will be honored for the same 48-hour battle.
Sgt. Matthew J. Greiner and Senior Airman Goodie Goodman will each
receive the nation's third-highest award for valor, the Silver Star.
to officials, it will be only the second time the Air Force will award
multiple Silver Stars and higher for the same event since Sept. 11,
The three medals will be presented by Air Force Lt. Gen.
Bradley A. Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command,
during a ceremony Wednesday on Pope Field.
Navy Vice Adm. Sean
A. Pybus, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Army
Capt. Evan Lacenski, leader of the 7th Special Forces Group team that
all three airmen served with, are scheduled to speak.
airmen are credited with saving the lives of 38 coalition soldiers who
were low on ammunition and under attack by nearly 100 insurgents,
according to the 24th Special Operations Wing, the higher command of
the 21st Special Tactics Squadron.
According to medal citations, the men disregarded their own lives to save the members of their team.
is credited with coordinating a counter assault involving F-16 Fighting
Falcon jets, AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, AC-130 Spectre gunships and
an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.
He also risked his
life to save a teammate who was gravely wounded by a sniper, dragging
the wounded man from a rooftop and then carrying him over more than 300
feet of open terrain to reach a medical evacuation helicopter.
then remained in the open, providing cover for the helicopter, before
returning to the compound where the rest of his team were fighting
According to intercepted communications, the enemy fighters were instructed to "Take the Americans alive."
Temple fought off the assault with air assets.
Then, with supplies dwindling, he again bounded across open terrain to retrieve ammunition from incoming aircraft.
Temple fought on one side of the Helmand River Valley, Goodman and
Greiner were in another position with more U.S. troops and Afghan
Within minutes of the assault, which started Sept.
27, Greiner had engaged enemy fighters by directing A-10 Warthogs and
AH-64 Apache helicopters.
During the battle, Greiner led
defensive air strikes, all while rocket-propelled grenades and machine
gun fire erupted from all directions.
Greiner focused his
efforts on halting the enemy advance, calling in four 500-pound bombs
from a pair of F-16s, coordinating Hellfire missiles and strafing runs
from Apaches on motorcycle-riding enemy fighters and then directed an
AC-130 to stop a potential suicide attack.
the same time, Goodman also controlled F-16s and Apaches from a nearby
rooftop, where enemy machine gun fire regularly struck a wall within
inches of his head.
Goodman stayed in the position, using it to help repel the assault and subdue enemy snipers.
one point, he directed the loud AC-130 gunships to fly out of audible
range to draw the enemy out of hiding before bringing the planes back
in to assault them.
Officials said the deployment was the second for Temple, fifth for Greiner and first for Goodman.
Goodman pictured to the right.
Two Fort Bragg airmen to receive Silver Stars for actions in Afghanistan
Two Fort Bragg airmen will receive Silver Stars for their valor in a 48-hour battle in Afghanistan last year.
Sgt. Matthew J. Greiner and Senior Airman Goodie Goodman will be
honored with the nation's third-highest award for valor during a
ceremony on Fort Bragg's Pope Field in early May, according to the 24th
Special Operations Wing.
airmen are Combat Controllers with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron,
an elite Air Force special operations unit based at Pope Field.
are credited with helping to save the lives of 38 troops, including 14
U.S. special operators and 24 Afghan commandos, during a September
a release, the commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing, Col.
Matthew Davidson, said Greiner is "a superb example of the incredible
competence and character within the special tactics community.
to officials, Greiner and Goodman (pictured right) were part of a
three-man Combat Controller team, working alongside a Special Forces
troops assaulted a hostile bazaar by helicopter, seeking to disrupt
insurgent operations, when they came under attack by more than 100
the two-day battle, Greiner and Goodman are credited with exposing
themselves to enemy fire to better call in precision air strikes and
coordinate the resupply of much-needed ammunition. Greiner controlled
70 air assets during the firefight.
The valor awards will be the latest for the 21st Special Tactics Squadron and Greiner.
The squadron is the most decorated unit of its size in the Air Force since Vietnam, officials said.
Greiner will be receiving the Silver Star shortly after being awarded
the Bronze Star medal with valor and before being honored as the Air
Force's national Non Commissioned Officer Association Vanguard Award
honors are both related to Greiner's actions during a battle on Sept.
21, 2014, seven days before the 48-hour battle alongside Goodman and
their Special Forces team, which in turn came five days after Greiner's
release from a Kandahar hospital.
that earlier battle, Greiner performed his duties as a Combat
Controller "despite grievous injuries to his head and body, calling in
life-saving close air support and (medical evacuations) for his special
operations team while injured," according to the 24th Special
The battle, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, came during a joint clearing operation in a known insurgent safe haven.
his team was ambushed, Greiner and his interpreter were severely
injured by a 40-mm grenade. A Special Forces medic moved Greiner to
safety and began treating his wounds, even as Greiner continued to call
in emergency close air support, holding his radio and a shrapnel
peppered map in one hand and an anesthetic lollipop in the other,
officials said. He controlled multiple aircraft for 38 minutes, turning
back the ambush while protecting his team.
actions in the face of danger showcase how special tactics airmen are
trained and ready to bring air power to bear, any time and any place,"
Davidson said. "This award is a testament to who he is as an
individual, and brings credit to all Air Force airmen."
July, Greiner will be honored alongside service members from the other
four branches during a banquet held by the Non Commissioned Officer
the second year in a row that an airman from the 21st Special Tactics
Squadron will receive the honor, which recognizes enlisted members from
each military service who performed a heroic act, on or off duty.
Air Force Cross, Silver Stars presented to three Fort Bragg airmen
||Three Fort Bragg airmen received some of the military's highest awards
for valor Wednesday when they were recognized for their efforts during
a 48-hour battle in Afghanistan last fall.
Dustin H. Temple received the Air Force Cross, his service's highest
award and the nation's second-highest award for valor, below only the
Medal of Honor.
Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. Greiner and Senior Airman Goodie J. Goodman each received the Silver Star.
to officials, it was only the second time the Air Force has awarded
multiple Silver Stars and higher for the same event since Sept. 11,
All three airmen are Combat Controllers with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron based at Fort Bragg's Pope Field.
|Officials said all three are preparing to deploy again.
On Sept. 27, the airmen were deployed alongside a detachment from the
7th Special Forces Group when they, along with Afghan commandos,
conducted a mission meant to disrupt insurgents in Helmand province.
detachment commander, Capt. Evan A. Lacenski, said the troops knew it
would be a difficult fight, but he said what they encountered was the
toughest battle many had ever been in.
Within hours, they found
themselves low on ammo and under attack by nearly 100 enemy fighters,
who according to intercepted communications had planned to take the
Lacenski said he thought that maybe the battle would be their last.
"I think everyone did," he said.
the three airmen saved the soldiers and their Afghan counterparts,
going above and beyond the call of duty to coordinate air strikes,
retrieve ammunition and move injured teammates.
credited with risking his life to save a Special Forces medic shot in
the head by an enemy sniper. He then dragged the medic, Sgt. 1st Class
Andy Weathers, from a rooftop and carried him across open terrain to
reach a medical evacuation helicopter.
Lacenski said Weathers
later died, but Temple's efforts helped ensure the medic's family was
able to visit him in an Army hospital before he passed.
the two-day ordeal, the three airmen coordinated dozens of aircraft. So
many, in fact, that some had to be turned away for lack of space in the
"It was the most hectic and chaotic two days of my life," Lacenski said.
Heithold called it an honor to present the medals.
"Not everyone who serves in this country deserves to be called a hero," Heithold said. "You do."
And he thanked Lacenski for pushing to have the three honored.
special operations community is hesitant to tout its own success,
Heithold said. And the recognition is more special when it comes from
"It feels really good when your joint partners trumpet your successes," he said.
|The airmen themselves deflected the praise after receiving their medals.
They credited their training, which allowed them to stay focused in the chaos.
Admiral Sean A. Pybus, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations
Command, called the battle a "case study of toughness, teamwork and
"Because of their actions, the coalition team won the fight and lived to fight again," he said.
Pybus was one of two three-star officers who attended the ceremony.
The other, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, presided over the ceremony.