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17th ASOS Airmen receive Bronze Stars

Published: 03:27PM April 19th, 2012
17th ASOS Airmen receive Bronze Stars

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Staff Sgt. Michael Macias, middle, and Staff Sgt. Truman Smith shake hands with well-wishers after receiving their bronze stars during the 17th Air Support Operations Squadron Silver Team Award Ceremony Monday. Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Five Airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord were awarded Bronze Stars Monday at JBLM Lewis Main for their work during two deployments to Afghanistan. The Airmen, from the 17th Air Support Operations Squadron, were deployed with joint operations forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010 and 2011.

“It’s humbling to be here today with these heroes,” Brig. Gen. Michael Kingsley, commander, 23rd Air Force, and director of operations for Air Force Special Operations Command, said.

Kingsley awarded the Bronze Stars to the Airmen at a ceremony at squadron headquarters on JBLM.

The recipients were Tech. Sgts. Evan Serpa and Jeremy Bowling, Staff Sgts. Michael Macias, Joshua Howard and Truman Smith. Each Airman was commended for his specific mission accomplishments as joint terminal attack controllers.

The recipients were honored to receive the award in front of their family and friends.

“This would mean nothing if it wasn’t for my family,” Smith said.

He received two bronze stars, one for a specific mission in which he helped recover the remains of a fallen helicopter and its crew, and one for his service during the two deployments.

The other four Airmen received Bronze Star Medals for their service during two deployments.

“It’s nice that they are getting the recognition they deserve,” Capt. Max Johnson, 17th ASOS air liaison officer, said.

The Airmen were quick to credit their fellow Airmen as part of their success.

“It’s great to work with such a high caliber unit as the 17th ASOS,” Howard said.

Lt. Col. Werner Keidel, 17th ASOS commander, commended the Airmen for the honors that they’d earned, as well as their success with joint special operations.

“What they’ve done at Joint Task Force is amazing,” Keidel said. “They are an integral part of a team and they don’t see themselves as any better than anyone else.”

Their work with the Joint Special Operations Command is key to success in Afghanistan according to Kingsley. The Airmen coordinate air strikes as well as operate reconnaissance aircraft in efforts with special operations forces during combat missions.

“They depend on each other for their lives,” Kingsley said of the joint operations.

The missions completed by the five Airmen led to the capture of numerous enemies and Taliban leaders. They also ensured the safety of their counterparts on the ground during and after the mission. For Smith, who helped recover the remains of fallen service members in a downed helicopter, the mission was about returning those men and women home.

“I was making sure all those men made it back to their families,” Smith said. “It was all for people back (home).”