The Valor of Four

Officials awarded two rescue airmen the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for heroism in a ceremony at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. Combat Rescue Officer Capt. Kevin Epstein and pararescueman TSgt. Brandon Daugherty were part of a four-man team credited with risking their lives to save a critically injured marine in Afghanistan on Feb. 21, 2012, base spokeswoman A1C Kelly Greenwell told Air Force Magazine. The team initially scrambled from Camp Bastion to rescue two coalition soldiers whose vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. While extinguishing the wreckage to extract the soldiers’ remains, a nearby marine detonated a second IED. “Kevin and I landed on our butts, we couldn’t see. We heard somebody yelling, ‘Man down,'” said Daugherty at the June 2 award ceremony, reported the Arizona Daily Star. The team opened the marine’s airway with an emergency tracheotomy, established a landing zone, and extracted the bodies of the two soldiers under sustained enemy fire. New York Air National Guard pararescuman SSgt. Matthew Zimmer received his Bronze Star with Valor—his second—on May 1. The fourth team member, SSgt Andrew Williamson, stationed at RAF Lakenheath, England, has been nominated for the medal. All four were assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, at the time, according to an ANG release.