A Combat Controller Story

SSgt. Robert Gutierrez Jr., a special tactics combat controller with the 352nd Special Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall, England, was on patrol in Afghanistan with an Army Special Forces team earlier this year when the convoy came under fire. He called in airstrikes that stopped the assault and moved out on foot with soldiers to check the area, only to find his team under fresh attack and cut off from the convoy’s heavy weapons. With some of the soldiers wounded, one in the enemy kill zone, Gutierrez killed four insurgents with his M4 carbine and called in A-10 Warthog strikes that enabled him and another team member to retrieve the soldier in the kill zone. After which, he directed another 70 close air support strikes over about five hours, repelling attempts to overrun the coalition troops. His efforts helped incapacitate more than 240 enemy fighters, including a high-value target that was the object of his team’s mission. According to a senior leader in his unit: “Sergeant Gutierrez’s actions that day epitomized the ethos of special tactics. He willingly risked his life to save a teammate. He maintained his composure in the darkest of circumstances and aggressively pursued the enemy using every asset at his disposal.” (RAF Mildenhall report by MSgt. Dennis Brewer)