Air Force special operator awarded Air Force Cross in Pentagon ceremony
Published: April 12, 2012
WASHINGTON – At the height of the battle in a pro-Taliban village in Laghman province, one of the many bullets whizzing around Air Force Capt. Barry Crawford sheared the antenna clean off the radio the combat air controller had been wearing as he directed airstrikes and guided medevac helicopters.
Displaying “selfless actions and expert airpower employment,” in the words of his medal citation, he stayed in the open to help land the choppers that would evacuate wounded Afghan commandoes. After mounting a spare antenna, he was back pouring fire at the enemy, both from the Apaches he was directing and from the barrel of his assault rifle.
In the end, even though the combined American-Afghan force had essentially walked into an ambush by a Taliban force far larger than expected, only two Afghan troops died in the 14-hour battle, while the power of the Taliban in the area was decimated by U.S. airpower.
Crawford’s heroism during the battle – for which several Army Special Forces soldiers have already been awarded Silver Stars and Bronze Stars for valor – earned him the Air Force Cross, which he received Thursday in a Pentagon ceremony presided over by Air Force Chief Gen. Norton Schwartz. The award is the highest the Air Force can give, and second only to the Medal of Honor.
Like many military heroes before him, the Air Force special operator sought to downplay his special role in the battle. “That day, everyone did heroics,” Crawford, 31, told the media on Wednesday. “It didn’t matter what their nationality was.”