Airman Awarded Bronze Star with Valor Medal

SrA. Michael Malarsie received the Bronze Star with Valor Medal for his heroic actions as a Tactical Air Control Party member in Afghanistan in January 2010 during a firefight that cost him his eyesight. “Words are not worthy of the heroism that Mike has displayed. He is a role model to us all,” said Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn, commander of the 59th Medical Wing, who presented Malarsie with the medal during a March 30 ceremony at JBSA-Lackland, Tex. On Jan. 3, 2010, improvised explosive devices badly injured Malarsie and took his eyesight, and also killed several of his colleagues, during a mission to clear a small foot bridge of explosives. Despite his serious wounds, Malarsie continued to support his teammates until rescue came. Today, Malarsie remains on active duty. With the help of his seeing-eye dog Xxon, he administers the Air Force Recovering Airman Mentorship Program. “When I learned of those men who were never coming home, it changed my life. It motivated me. I decided I wasn’t going to let being blind hold me back. I am going to live my life, if not for me, then for them,” he said. (Lackland report by SSgt. Josie Walck)