Silver Star for Combat Controller

SSgt. Caleb Gilbreath, a Combat Control School instructor at Pope Field, N.C., received the Silver Star medal for his “extraordinary bravery” in Afghanistan in late 2009. Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, presented the Silver Star to Gilbreath, a member of Pope’s 21st Special Tactics Squadron back in 2009, during the Sept. 23 ceremony. “I didn’t feel like I did anything special,” said Gilbreath, reported the Fayetteville Observer. “I did my job.” According to his citation, Gilbreath “exposed himself to direct enemy fire” on Nov. 2, 2009, after 30 insurgents attacked his special forces team and Afghan army partners in “a well-coordinated” ambush. Gilbreath successfully “coordinated three separate pinpoint bomb strikes that devastated the insurgents and halted the attack.” Three days later, Gilbreath’s team went to clear a village with about 120 insurgents. “As bullets and shrapnel impacted his vehicle from all directions and the enemy closed on his team’s position,” Gilbreath “directed two immediate danger-close strafing runs against insurgent fighters just 30 feet from his position,” states the citation. He remained partially exposed “without regard for his own safety” as he “methodically decimated the enemy with eight more airstrikes.”