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Air Force pararescuemen receive Bronze Stars with valor for life-saving actions in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Barry Cornish, 12th Air Force commander, returns the salute of Staff Sgt. Benjamin Brudnicki, 48th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, during a Bronze Star presentation ceremony at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Oct. 1, 2020. Brudnicki received the Bronze Star with valor for his actions during a mission last year in Afghanistan.

JACOB T. STEPHENS/U.S. AIR FORCE

By J.P. LAWRENCE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 13, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two airmen assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron have been awarded the fourth highest military honor for their actions during missions against the Taliban last year in Afghanistan, the Air Force said in a statement.

Master Sgt. Adam Fagan and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Brudnicki each received Bronze Stars with valor at a ceremony at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., on Oct. 1, the statement said.

The pair were recognized for their actions during separate missions with Army Special Forces units in the southern province of Helmand.

Brudnicki was a medic on a joint U.S.-Afghan assault team that came under attack during a mission to clear a Taliban compound in May 2019.

When an Afghan commando was shot and wounded, he “treated multiple casualties with advanced medical interventions and helped coordinate exfiltration while my team continued to eliminate the threat,” he said in the statement.

He also ran through a barrage of gunfire to rescue a civilian wounded during the battle, and fought enemy fighters in close-range combat, said his citation, quoted by Air Force Magazine.

“At distances of less than five feet, he engaged relentlessly with personal weapons and hand grenades, despite their cover being damaged with a rocket that failed to detonate,” the citation said. “His actions resulted in the seven enemies killed in action, including a Taliban commander, and saved the lives of two coalition partners.”

Two months earlier, Fagan and the Special Forces team he was attached to were moving through a Taliban compound to take out an improvised explosive devices manufacturer when they came under “heavy IED attack” and small arms fire, the Air Force statement said.

Fagan treated a wounded commando while under heavy gunfire, and then called for a helicopter to evacuate him, Air Force Magazine reported.

His “exceptionally brave actions and speed of patient delivery led to the destruction of an enemy weapons cache, the elimination of five enemy insurgents,” and saved the life of the commando, said his citation, quoted by Air Force Magazine.

“I knew what I was physically able to do, I knew I could treat that guy under fire in the dark,” Fagan said in the statement.

The two pararescuemen’s “selfless lifesaving actions while under enemy fire are a testament to their personal courage, not uncommon in the rich history of the … Air Force combat rescue community,” said Col. Peter White, commander of the 563rd Rescue Group, which the 48th Rescue Squadron is part of.

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U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Barry Cornish, 12th Air Force commander, returns the salute of Master Sgt. Adam Fagan, 48th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, during a Bronze Star presentation ceremony at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Oct. 1, 2020. Fagan was presented the Bronze Star Medal with valor for his actions during a mission last year in Afghanistan.
JACOB T. STEPHENS/U.S. AIR FORCE