Guardian Angel Pararescuemen receive high honors

Airmen assigned to the 355th Wing applaud during an award ceremony at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 22, 2019. Combined, four Guardian Angel pararescuemen were presented two Bronze Star medals with Valor, two Air Force Commendation medals with Valor, and a Purple Heart medal for their honorable acts during a deployment in Afghanistan. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

Four Guardian Angel pararescuemen assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron were recognized for exemplary service at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 22, 2019.

The pararescuemen exceeded expectations of their individual missions while assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan during the spring of 2019, and were presented their awards by U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander.

“All four deployed with the 48th Rescue Squadron this last Spring, positioning and posturing personnel in a layered Personnel Recovery approach,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Pearce, the 48th RQS commander.

Senior Airman Matthew earned a Bronze Star medal with Valor for his actions March 1 to 2, 2019. Matthew responded to a base attack where military forces were taken hostage and exposed himself numerous times to enemy fire, all while providing aid and transporting the wounded.

Senior Airman Cody earned an Air Force Commendation medal with Valor, for firing over 1,000 heavy machine gun rounds and five 40-millimeter grenades at adversaries, April 12, 2019. By doing this, he enabled his team to eliminate 44 Taliban fighters, nine enemy fighting positions and save six joint coalition members.

“Rescue is about the right place, right time, and right posture of layered personnel recovery capabilities to enable our joint force partners and mitigate risk,” said Pearce discussing Guardian Angel operations.

Staff Sgt. Taylor earned the Bronze Star medal with Valor for trying to save a partner-force service member during combat operations against adversaries, May 4 to 5, 2019.

Senior Airman Connor earned an Air Force Commendation medal with Valor and Purple Heart medal for his actions May 8, 2019. Despite injuries, Connor responded to a complex attack involving an improvised explosive device and returned fire against adversaries for 12 hours.

“Under the 455th AEW leadership of Brig. Gen. David Lyons, the former 12th Air Force Vice Commander, 18 pararescuemen from the 48th RQS embedded at 10 locations in Afghanistan, and they participated in 129 direct action missions, which resulted in over 800 enemies killed in action,” Pearce said. “Most important of all, these pararescuemen treated and saved 61 friendly force personnel and helped repatriate four fallen heroes.”

For the duration of their deployment, the Airmen’s efforts contributed to four Bronze Star medals with Valor, two Air Force Commendation medals with Valor, two Purple Heart medals, and 13 Air Force Combat Action medals.

Through their honorable and heroic acts of saving lives while defending their brothers-in-arms against adversaries, these Airmen exceeded their Air Force mission.

“I hope you got to see a little bit of insight of what our Airmen do downrange and also here day-to-day,” Croft said. “To this squadron, to this wing and to this base, supporting what they did for five months in Afghanistan is truly amazing. I want to say thank you to the four of you and your families. This is an outstanding recognition of your efforts of those who were with you. It’s a great day to be in the Air Force.”

Editors’ note: In the interest of personnel safety, the last names of the Guardian Angel pararescuemen awarded the medals have been omitted.