He “Refused to be a Burden” and Earned an Air Force Cross – DoD Blogger Roundtable

TSgt (Select) Robert (“Gute”) GutierrezHUMBLE









Words heard frequently during the interview… A motto… FIRST THERE … THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE

Imagine a night time assault on a bad guy stronghold with the best fighters in the world on your side.  You are outnumbered and the bad guys have the high ground (never a good thing) but you have A-10s and F-16s overhead and the night is your friend.  Plus you have eyes in the sky overlooking the battle situation with an ISR platform.  But you are the guy calling in the airstrikes, you control them with your radio, your laser designator, your team relies on you to guide the pilots putting precision guided weapons right on the target – close to your team and you… then you are wounded!

CCT in Operation Enduring FreedomThe DoD Bloggers Roundtable had the privilege to interview and hear the story of TSgt (select) Robert Gutierrez, an Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controller awarded the Air Force Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor during combat action in Afghanistan!  The action occurred in 2009 during a special forces assault on a Taliban force of 70 folks!  The A team of 12 with training, firepower, intelligence, surveillance and air power knew that the plan was right, the target and battle winnable.  According to Gutierrez, the battle was won that night but he suffered major injuries during the fight.
Bleeding from the wound and his mouth and nose after being shot, a collapsed lung, and weighing 250 pounds with all of his equipment including the vital communications gear; he hiked out of the battle site with his team losing nearly half of his body’s total blood.

CCT in Operation Enduring FreedomHe “refused to be a burden” for the rest of the team as they headed for a helicopter landing zone 45 minutes away after a four hour battle.  He credits a friend, an A Team medic for keeping him alive during that timeframe!  I did not hear many “I’s” during this interview!  I did hear a lot of humble words, thank you, blessing, team, honored …  Many Americans could learn from “Gute” an airman through and through!

Asked about his family, he said his parents taught him “right and wrong”.  His wife was pregnant with their daughter when he was wounded and is pregnant now with a son.  He said he is “fit for duty” and has recurring physical therapy for his injuries but plans to return to duty similar to that which nearly cost him his life!  He currently scuba dives, jumps from perfectly good aircraft and trains the future airmen fighters just like him!

Want to read more about special tactics airmen? FIRST THERE … THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE is there motto! Go to for more information on their critical role and training requirements!  I had the privilege to serve with these guys and there are none better.  I proudly display the berets of combat controllers like Gutierrez and pararescuemen (PJs) in my home that were gifts presented at my retirement.

Thank you so much to DoDLive for making this Blogger Roundtable possible.  If you would like to listen to an audio of this Blogger Roundtable or read a transcript please go to DoDLive!  To read more Col K Roundtable blogs please click on the link!

SECDEF Panetta and TSgt (Sel) Gutierrez
Photo Credit:  TSgt (Select) Robert Guiterrez DoDLive

Photo Credit:  OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM — Air Force combat controllers gear-up for a night fire exercise at a forward-deployed location supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Combat controllers conduct and support special operations missions under clandestine, covert or low visibility conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock)

Photo Credit:  OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM — A combat controller walks back to his teammates after practicing firing movements at an undisclosed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock)

Photo Credit: During a meeting with joint service members, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shakes the hand of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez Jr., a combat controller who was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions in Afghanistan, following a visit to the 9-11 Memorial and One World Trade Center site in New York City, Sept. 6, 2011. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, U.S. Air Force) (Released)byColonel KonWednesday, September 21, 2011Military Life:,,,,

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