Combat Controllers Awarded Silver Star

Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel presented TSgt. Ismael Villegas and SSgt. Dale Young each with a Silver Star Medal for gallantry in combat on separate occasions near Helmand province, Afghanistan. The award ceremony took place on July 22 at JBSA-Lackland, Tex., where both combat controllers are currently assigned, according to a base release. Villegas is now the Air Force’s only two-time Silver Star recipient currently on active duty, states the release. “Gentlemen, your bravery and tenacity epitomize what being a warrior is all about,” said Fiel. “Your stories are truly inspiring.” The Air Force recognized Villegas for his heroics “during nonstop enemy engagements” from Feb. 6-24, 2011. He controlled numerous strike aircraft that took out eight enemy fighting positions and killed more than 20 insurgents. He also gathered intelligence at great risk and pulled to safety a teammate hit by shrapnel. The Air Force honored Young for his actions from May 19-23, 2009, when he was under continuous enemy fire for 94 hours. He controlled coalition aircraft and ensured effective fires on enemy positions; this mission also resulted in the destruction of “more than $1 billion in black tar opium,” states the release. (Lackland report by Mike Joseph)