Today is a big day for an American hero. Captain Barry Crawford will be receiving the nation’s second highest award for combat valor – the Air Force Cross (each service has an equivalent). In front of friends, his special tactics team members, fellow military personnel and distinguished visitors, Captain Crawford will be recognized for his heroism on the battlefield in Afghanistan. His coolness under fire helped deliver ordnance from the skies to assist his special operations team and Afghan commandos and prevented them from being overrun!
The Air Force special tactics officer is credited with saving many Afghan and US soldiers’ lives during that pitched 12 hour battle for control of an Afghan village, surrounding high elevations and denying the Taliban unchallenged access. He described the Afghan commandos that were the preponderance of the allied fighting force that day as “ferocious fighters”.
Capt. Barry Crawford,
Air Force special tactics officerCrawford brought the ace to the game with American airpower and his ability to move within the fight to guide the different air elements to targets. Initially planned with about 100 ground personnel, 2 AH-64 Apaches, 2 F-16 Falcons and an AC-130 gunship the fight quickly required more resources from the air as a large force of Taliban attacked from higher ground. With 30 plus aircraft involved during the engagement and 15 at one time overhead, the single airman on the ground responsible for the air resources had his hands full. Exposing himself to enemy fire to better coordinate the efforts of the friendly airpower, he used skills few have. The aircraft on station received guidance from him where to attack and what type of ordnance to use. He guided fighters, a B-1 bomber, Air Force combat rescue HH-60Gs recovering the injured, Army helicopters – UH-60 and AH-64s, the special operations gunship and other resources! All in a day’s work, right?
He had high regard for the aircrews that flew that day. The AH-64s that put ordnance down all day long for his team (90 rockets, 30,000 rounds of gun ammo); the HH-60Gs that flew into a “hot” landing zone to recover the wounded and received 10 bullet holes to remember the day; and the fixed wing aircraft that continued to provide coverage as the weather got better during the day. Twelve hours that must have seemed like an eternity!
Special tactics training for men like Captain Crawford is three years long. Three years of physical training, technical knowledge, mental toughness, the ability to work under stress and much more! Crawford spoke about his experiences and explained how non commissioned officers gave him the training and technical expertise to survive and excel in combat. He said, the NCOs lessons included “never quit”, “always be ready” and “here to learn …”. He praised another special tactics member and Air Force Cross recipient, TSgt Robert “Gut” Gutierrez who the DoD Blogger Roundtable had interviewed last fall as an example of the special tactics NCOs. I know these types of guys: quiet, tough professionals. I even flew with some of them during my Air Force career; I also flew one of the aircraft that was on station that day!
Best wishes to Captain Crawford as he continues his career with the Maryland Air National Guard and attends pilot training in order to fly the A-10C. A well deserved honor has been bestowed on yet another American hero!
If you would like to listen to an audio of this very interesting DoD Blogger Roundtable please go to DoDLive. Mr. William Selby of DoDLive did an exceptional job of arranging and moderating the roundtable. Thank you William!
Photo Credit: DoDLive, US Air Force
Join Us byColonel KonThursday, April 12, 2012Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to PinterestMilitary Life:Afghanistan,Col K,DoD Roundtable,DoDLive,Heroism,military,military community