Wounded Air Force Cross Recipient Medically Retires

An Air Force Cross recipient who was wounded in a 6.5-hour battle with insurgents in Afghanistan’s Shok Valley in 2008 has medically retired. TSgt. Zachary Rhyner was shot in the left leg and trapped on a six?-foot cliff under constant enemy fire on April 6, 2008, but the special tactics combat controller still called in more than 50 air strikes against enemy forces and provided suppressive fire to help allow the extraction of his teammates. After receiving the award, Rhyner deployed five more times—to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti, according to an Air Force news release. A gunshot wound to his right hip during a 2013 deployment to Afghanistan shattered his femur and severed a nerve, but he threw himself into rehabilitation while serving as an instructor for special tactics airmen. Before his retirement, Rhyner completed one last military freefall jump. Rhyner is “a truly amazing combat controller,” said Col. Matthew Wolfe Davidson, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing. “He exemplifies a very rare blend of special operators with exceptional technical and tactical skills, but is also blessed with an uncommon sense of humility and duty to his teammates and his country.” (See also Life Flight from the December 2013 issue of Air Force Magazine.)