Combat controller awarded two Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

Ravage

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http://www.afsoc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123107765

7/23/2008 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- A 23rd Special Tactics Squadron combat controller was awarded two Bronze Stars, one with Valor, and a Purple Heart during a low-key ceremony at the 23rd STS auditorium July 21.

Staff Sgt. Dean Conner stood at attention before a standing-room-only crowd as Col. Bradley Thompson, 720th Special Tactics Group commander, presented each of the three awards.

"Sergeant Conner epitomizes the warrior ethos - he is always professional and always humble," said Colonel Thompson. "One aspect I appreciate most about special tactics is that our Airmen constantly put the team before themselves - always. Dean was doing exactly that when he was wounded twice in nearly a week's time."

According to the citation that accompanied the Bronze Star with Valor, Sergeant Conner was involved in an ambush where he was knocked unconscious when a rocket-propelled grenade impacted the side of his vehicle. After regaining consciousness he immediately returned fire, prevented the enemy from surrounding his team, and directed air strikes onto known enemy locations.

Little more than a week after this incident, his skills were put to the test again when his patrol was struck by a hostile force. He returned fire and called in support from above as the enemy continued to attack. During a hail of incoming enemy gunfire, Sergeant Conner suffered a gunshot wound. Despite his injury he maintained composure and situational awareness, and continued identifying targets and calling in air strikes while he received life-saving medical attention.

"What you do not read in the citation is that right up until the time he was airlifted out for his wounds he was thinking about his team's welfare above his own," said Colonel Thompson. "His last words to the support aircraft overhead were to please be sure his team got out of there safely."

A pilot providing close air support in communication with Sergeant Conner said he was impressed with the clear and calm voice of professionalism that the noncommissioned officer displayed.

"The person standing next to you becomes more important than you," said Senior Master Sgt. Antonio Travis, 23rd STS chief enlisted manager. "You find that you will do anything for that person, and Sergeant Conner exemplified that by his actions that day."

Sergeant Conner doesn't feel he did anything that anyone else in his situation wouldn't have done.

"This is what we, as special tactics combat controllers, do," said Sergeant Conner. "I was only doing what the Air Force trained me to do. To be decorated does feel good, but this is for my career field - my team."

Sergeant Conner's modest and team-focused attitude is what superiors say make him stand out.

"Dean is a great teammate and a phenomenal operator," said Capt. Steven Cooper, 720th STG executive officer and former team leader. "His medals are well-deserved, and it is great that he and special tactics as a whole are getting recognition for their great contributions and sacrifices."

Sergeant Conner is quick to acknowledge that contributions and sacrifices are made by many.

"We are nothing alone - it takes the hard work and dedication of many people to be successful, and we are proud of what we do," he said.

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Col. Bradley Thompson, 720th Special Tactics Group commander, presents Staff Sgt. Dean Conner, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, with the certificate to accompany the Purple Heart during a ceremony here July 21. The combat controller was also awarded two Bronze Star Medals, one with Valor, for his heroic actions during a hostile fire situation. During a hail of incoming enemy gunfire, Sergeant Conner suffered a gunshot wound. He continued to return fire and call in support from above, despite his injury. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Moore)
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Col. Bradley Thompson, 720th Special Tactics Group commander, presents Staff Sgt. Dean Conner, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, with a Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony here July 21. The combat controller was also awarded a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart. "Our Airmen constantly put the team before themselves - always," said Colonel Thompson. "Dean was doing exactly that when he was wounded twice in nearly a week's time," (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Moore)

Outstanding !
 

pardus

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Sep 7, 2006
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Awesome, those guys are the shit!

Well deserved!

Could he look any more bored!? lol
 
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