The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Bradley T. Reilly, Technical Sergeant, U.S. 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 life saving 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 life saving actions of Technical Sergeant Reilly reflects great credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, and the United States Air Force.

TSgt Brad Reilly’s heroic actions in Afghanistan resulted in the award of the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Additionally, he has been honored as Air Force Special Operations Command’s Pitsenberger Award winner for 2005. He is currently assigned as a Combat Control element leader with the 23d Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. Sergeant Reilly has been both a Marine and an Air Force member since 1988. TSgt Reilly earned his Combat Control red beret in 2002, Sergeant Reilly is a veteran of Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM, RESTORE HOPE, and ENDURING FREEDOM.

Sergeant Reilly has been both a Marine and an Air Force member since 1988. TSgt Reilly earned his Combat Control red beret in 2002, Sergeant Reilly is a veteran of Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM, RESTORE HOPE, and ENDURING FREEDOM.

‘I didn’t stop shooting’
Tech sergeant takes enemy lives while saving a teammate’s. This merits him a Silver Star.
By Bruce Rolfsen

Tech. Sgt. Brad Reilly doesn’t want his life-and-death fight on an Afghanistan mountain slope to be called a hero’s story.

“It is more of a story about all of the Americans on that hill and in the air that day taking the fight to the enemy — doing the right thing for each other, under difficult circumstances, with no shortage of guts or gallantry,” Reilly said.

On April 11, 2005, he was with a quick-reaction force that went after insurgent fighters on a mountainside in Afghanistan. He and an Army master sergeant exchanged fire with the enemy during a four-hour firefight before they both were shot. Between them, they killed at least six insurgents as they fought down the mountain.

Exactly a year later, Reilly was presented a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. The combat controller from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., is also among Air Force Special Operations Command’s airmen of the year, and he is in contention for the Air Force-wide honor.

The wound to his right foot from an AK47 has essentially healed, and he’s eager to go back to the field. “I was scheduled to deploy again with the squadron until all of these awards started coming in,” Reilly told Air Force Times. “Going to fight the war on terror is the only reason I am in this job, so that is discouraging to me, but I understand the decision. I’ll be back over there just as soon as they forget about me for a little while.”

Finding the danger

The day of the firefight, Reilly’s team was pulling duty as a quick-reaction force based in eastern Afghanistan’s Khowst Bowl at Fire Base Chapman. He was part of Army Special Forces Team ODA 163.
A radio call came in that an Afghan army general and 40 of his fighters were being ambushed at the Khowst-Gardez Pass. The team of nine Army special operators, with Reilly as their close-air support specialist, and 10 Afghans attached to the team took off for the pass in two Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Also heading there were two A-10 Warthogs and a pair of Army AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships.

When they reached the pass about 50 minutes later, they found the shot-up convoy but no one with life-threatening wounds. The Afghan commander said the ambush fire had come from the high ground to the west. The special operations team flew the two Black Hawks there to find the shooters.

The team spotted one enemy fighter hiding under a tree near an 8,200-foot-high mountaintop. Near him was a backpack with rocket-propelled grenades.

The team’s commander decided the U.S. and Afghan troops aboard Reilly’s helicopter would hit the ground and flush out whoever was hiding. Within 30 seconds, Reilly and fellow team members were under fire.

As the team moved closer to the insurgent position, Reilly was on his radio directing airstrikes from the two Apache gunships. The insurgent was so well protected that the helicopter’s missiles and gunfire couldn’t reach him. The ground team attacked him.

About 50 feet away from the dug-in fighter, Reilly and the team sergeant, Army Master Sgt. Paul Cooper of Fort Lewis, Wash., threw grenades at the enemy position. Other troops working as a flanking element swept through and finished him off.

Then Reilly looked down a narrow slope falling away to the east — what he called the “finger.” He saw clothing and other articles. In a briefing given to Air Force officials, he described what happened next:

“I started working my way down to them and immediately got engaged from a second [insurgent] sitting in the trees really close by. From this point on, the battlefield became pretty small. They have a really good way of hiding in the bushes and in the rocks and the trees so that you can’t see them until you’re right there on them.”
Reilly shot and killed the insurgent and then was fired on from two new positions downhill.

“I have to be honest with you, once I found the target, I didn’t stop shooting,” Reilly told Air Force officials. “I probably put five or six rounds in just to make sure I wasn’t going to roll the dice on him. I engaged and killed those two guys and continued . . .”

Cooper joined Reilly. They worked down the slope looking for a vantage point from which Reilly could direct the helicopters to attack. At the same time, they returned fire, killing three more enemy fighters.

Then the situation got worse.

“What we didn’t know until that point is that there were five other anti-coalition militants down here waiting for us. They all fired simultaneously.”

Reilly’s right foot was hit.

“There are a few things that go through your mind when you get shot. The fact that it hurts, the fact that somebody’s aiming their weapon and has you in their
sights, and the fact that wherever you’re at that moment is probably not the safest place to be.”

Reilly jumped off a small cliff, landing on his good foot, and ran for cover behind a tree.

There he found Cooper, badly wounded.

“From kneecap to kneecap, his entire groin was covered in blood. It looked like he had taken some multiple rounds to his legs. He set his rifle down, took his helmet off, and that was it, he was out of the fight. ... He was very lucid, and he was telling me, ‘Hey, I need you to stop the bleeding, I’m losing a lot of blood.’

Reilly and Cooper wouldn’t get out of there quickly. For the next two hours, Reilly had his hands full. When he wasn’t on the radio telling helicopters where to fire, he was shooting at the enemy or helping a medic, Sgt. 1st Class Jubal Day, who had worked his way down the slope to treat Cooper.

One Black Hawk that came to their rescue by beating back an assault was hit by at least 30 small-arms rounds.

A medical evacuation helicopter finally arrived overhead. The U.S. troops and their Afghan allies fired a five-minute barrage of rounds at the area where they thought enemy fighters were hiding. As the barrage thundered, Reilly and Cooper were hoisted to safety and flown to a field hospital.

After the fighting, the bodies of 13 enemy fighters were found, Reilly said. The insurgents were well equipped, with sniper rifles, armor-piercing bullets, good mountain boots and four radios.

“They weren’t afraid,” Reilly said. “They’re out there fighting; they’re out doing their jihad. And this day, they didn’t win.”

Some might ask why Reilly didn’t call in an air strike to begin with.

“Had I known that there were over a dozen more fighters waiting down that eastern finger, I might have played it safe, stayed at the top of the hill and called in those A-10s with their 500-pound air-burst bombs and turned that hill into a parking lot,” Reilly told Air Force Times.

“But what if just one of those guys got away? He would be right back there right now setting up another ambush ... I take great pride in the fact that Paul and I charged down that hill.

I think I would do it again the same way.”

Air Force Names 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year
Randolph AFB, TX. - Air Force officials have selected the service's top enlisted members, naming the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2006.
Tech. Sgt. Bradley Reilly, Hurlburt Field, Fla.