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Airman honored for efforts under fire

NCO receives Bronze Star for actions in Kabul

627th Security Forces Squadron

Published: 03:05PM May 1st, 2014

A senior NCO from the 627th Security Forces Squadron was awarded the Bronze Star Medal April 18 at a 627th Air Base Group all call.

Master Sgt. Richard Blackstone, 627th Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent, was recognized for his service during a 365-day deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan, as part the 439th Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. The unit’s primary mission is security assistance and the training of Afghan armed forces to effectively carry out their missions and operate independently.

Blackstone was responsible for training 467 Afghan security force members in base defense operations, tactics and logistics, while defending a 26-kilometer perimeter. Under his guidance, the unit directly contributed to Kabul Airfield executing 2,173 combat missions and more than 6,000 air combat sorties.

But it was one day in particular that came to define Blackstone’s tour.

Blackstone, as he recounted the day during his deployment that was unlike any other. That day included a Taliban attack against a neighboring compound, which lasted five hours.

During the firefight, Blackstone found himself manning tactical defense positions to ensure members of his unit were properly supplied and ready to meet the threat.

“The security forces members charged with securing our (forward operating base) exceeded my expectations for an exceptionally young group of Defenders,” Blackstone said. “Their training kicked in and they performed flawlessly.”

Blackstone and his team prevented a breach of their perimeter and ensured the safety of the 73-person FOB.

Maj. Mathew Foisy, 627th SFS commander, attended the ceremony and commented on Blackstone’s actions during his deployment.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Rich and his accomplishments,” Foisy said. “Despite having numerous deployments under his belt, he raised his hand and volunteered for one more 365-day deployment so he could lead Defenders in the toughest of environments.”

Col. Anthony Davit, 627th ABG commander, who presented the medal to Blackstone, added, “Even though we are called upon to provide joint support in garrison, we are still battlefield Airmen first, performing Air Force missions worldwide, and Master Sergeant Blackstone is a perfect example of a warrior Airman.”

Blackstone’s wife, Yvette, and their two children, Lauren and Ian, were also on hand to witness the ceremony.

“It was humbling to see Rich’s hard work and efforts recognized in such a distinguished forum,” Yvette said.

Blackstone is currently the operations superintendent for the 627th SFS, where he leads 60 Defenders in both flightline operations and Phoenix Raven sections that provide flyaway and weapon systems security for JBLM.