Combat Controller to Receive Silver Star

An Air Force combat controller will receive the Silver Star on Nov. 22 for his actions in Afghanistan last year, in which he fended off enemy ambushes with danger close airstrikes.

TSgt. Cody Smith, who is assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon AFB, N.M., will receive the award for “securing the safety of his joint and partner force members by preventing enemy forces from overrunning friendly positions” during a fierce fight that took place during Afghanistan’s national parliamentary elections in October 2018, according to an Air Force Special Operations Command release.

Smith was deployed with a US Special Forces team when they took accurate fire during a mission in the northwest of the country. “With no regard for his own personal safety,” Smith exposed himself to fire to control airstrikes and help assist dozens of civilians who were injured and killed from the ambush, according to the release.

He controlled strikes from an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter as well as F-16s, placing multiple 500-pound bombs on targets as close as 90 meters from his position.

During the firefit, Smith was hit by hostile fire, including a mortar that exploded two meters away from him causing a concussion, according to AFSOC. However, he continued to control airstrikes and stayed with the team for the 14-hour drive back to friendly lines.

Smith will receive the award during a ceremony at Cannon, with AFSOC boss Lt. Gen. Jim Slife officiating. It will be the second Silver Star presentation within a week for AFSOC. CMSgt. Chris Grove, superintendent for the 720th Special Tactics Group at Hurlburt Field, Fla., was awarded the Silver Star—an upgrade from the Bronze Star Medal he initially received—during a Nov. 15 ceremony at Hurlburt, following an Air Force review of AFSOC valor awards.

The special tactics community, since Sept. 11, 2001, has received one Medal of Honor, 11 Air Force Crosses, and 48 Silver Stars.

Smith was also named the 2019 Air Force Times Airman of the Year.