NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented Bronze Stars with valor to three Nellis pararescuemen during a ceremony here April 13.
Staff Sgt. Asher Woodhouse, Tech. Sgt. Ryan Manjuck and Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Hedglin of the 58th Rescue Squadron were individually awarded the medal for putting their lives at risk under enemy fire to rescue three American Soldiers in Afghanistan June 3, 2010.
"Members of the rescue community and, more recently these three individuals, provide great comfort to families and military members in the fight knowing that there are such professionals willing to enter the hostile conditions to evacuate them if they are injured," Admiral Mullen said.
Each Airman was individually recognized during the ceremony for their courage and role in executing the rescue of the wounded soldiers and protecting both the air and ground assets that were in danger.
During his first deployment after recently cross-training into the pararescue career field, Sergeant Manjuck made an immediate impact. While under enemy fire, he provided hoist extractions for wounded Soldiers and provided medical treatment for a critically injured patient.
"I didn't really know what to expect with it being my first deployment," Sergeant Manjuck said. "I quickly realized that the training I received really helped. Every scenario we faced during our search and rescue missions had previously been addressed in the training I received over the last two years. Even though it was my first deployment it really didn't feel that way."
Sergeant Hedglin acted as the Guardian Angel team leader during the incident. He organized and led the team into the high-threat combat area. Placing the lives of the wounded above his own, he managed to carry a wounded soldier more than 25 meters across open terrain while under fire to a helicopter for evacuation.
"During the incident, I was lucky to have the training that we do at Nellis," said Sergeant Hedglin. "That training helped me to know what to do and how to instinctively react in a high-stress combat situation."
Sergeant Woodhouse was able to spot and alert the aircrew of the HH-60 Pave Hawk, which was en route to evacuate wounded personnel, of incoming surface-to-air missiles. Due to his situational awareness, the wounded individuals were safely evacuated from the hostile area.
"While here at Nellis we are constantly training," Sergeant Woodhouse said. "That training is what makes what we do become second nature and helps us to effectively accomplish the search and rescue mission."
Sergeant Woodhouse was also able to lead his element back into the hostile area to evacuate two injured Soldiers who were critically wounded by an improvised explosive device.
Admiral Mullen and Nellis leadership congratulated each Airman for their heroic actions and dedication to duty.
"These members give great reassurance to our military members in the fight," Admiral Mullen said. "They know that if push came to shove, there are individuals that can provide the medical attention and evacuation procedures necessary for getting our people out of combat fast."
Even after receiving the Bronze Star, the recipients mostly gave credit to the individuals serving with them in Afghanistan.
"I'm accepting this award on behalf of the rescue community as a whole," Sergeant Hedglin said. "Without the whole rescue community working together so often, we wouldn't have the cohesiveness to be effective in our mission to save lives. It's humbling to be able to hear about my brethren in the rescue community and how they helped save people's lives."
"It's great to be part of such an important part of the mission," Sergeant Manjuck said. "The medal is nice, but what I did is nothing compared to some of my brethren in the rescue community who do this every day overseas for a much longer period of time."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star in 1944 for presentation to U.S. military members who distinguish themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service not involving participation in aerial flight while engaging the enemy.
Article by Senior Airman Michael Charles, 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs