Honored Warriors & Distinguished VIP Ambassadors Team Fastrax™ Warrior Weekend to Remember 2017
New 2017 Warriors
Air Force MSGT Daniel Blevins
(Purple Heart Recipient) MSGT Daniel Blevins was a convoy commander conducting Gun Truck security for convoys in Iraq. During a mission on April 7, 2005 they were escorting about 40 tractor trailers moving south. As they were passing through an Iraqi National Guard check point an IED was detonated on his vehicle, injuring himself and two others.
Army SSG Paul Brondhaver
(Purple Heart Recipient) SSG Paul Brondhaver is a native of New Richmond, Ohio, a small town located 20 miles east of Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River. Paul joined the United States Army at age 17, before graduating from New Richmond High School in May 1986. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Arts and Science from the University of Cincinnati. Paul has earned his Master’s in Business Administration in 2013 from Indiana Wesleyan University. Paul has been a Red Cross volunteer and instructor for 31 years. Paul retired from the United States Army in 2007 with 21 years of service. SSG Paul Brondhaver has traveled all over the world through his military service to places such as Honduras, Germany, Panama, Kuwait, and Iraq. His state and country called on him to serve on active duty for 12 different missions and operations. He served with the 216th Combat Engineer Unit and the 1st Infantry Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 through 2005. SSG Brondhaver’s tour ended early when his combat patrol was attacked with small arms fire and a rocket propelled grenade that exploded near his Humvee in Summara, North of Baghdad, Iraq in July 2004. Paul’s body was riddled with over 300 pieces of metal shrapnel in the attack, while a fellow soldier and friend was killed in the explosion. Paul has hearing loss, severe nerve damage in his legs, a traumatic brain injury, and severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Paul has undergone over 35 operations and procedures, removing shrapnel and repairing joints, tendons, ligaments, and re-attaching pelvis. SSG Paul Brondhaver's military awards include 4 Army Commendation Medals, 3 Army Achievement Medals, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Bronze Star with Valor, and The Purple Heart.
Army MAJ Vincent Cerchione
(Combat Injured) MAJ Vincent Cerchione has served 4 different deployments, 2 to Iraq. He suffers from severe PTSD, TBI, Audio Processing Disorder, Degenerative Disc Disease, Short term Memory Loss, 2 spinal surgeries (one a fusion), Audiobook Brain Stem Dysfunction, and service related hearing loss.
Army SGT Spencer Davis
(Purple Heart Recipient) SGT E-5 Spencer Davis was hit with an I.E.D Blast 9-22-2005, 11:50PM while on a mounted patrol during OIF III as part of a Tactical Movement Team. He performed many night Ops, and LRP missions. Davis took small frags to his left hand, a compression injury to neck, hip impingement to both hips, liver damage, PTSD, etc. He told the medics he would kick their a** if they told anyone after bandages and shrapnel found in my living quarters by my female Battle Buddy while he did the 3 S's. He was treated and has continued treatment by V.A. in Columbus, Ohio and Physical therapy in Bellefontaine, Ohio as needed.
Army CPL Sue Downes
(Purple Heart Recipient) CPL Sue Downes, 10th Mountain Division 554th Military Police Division. Downes from Tazewell, Tenn. Downes was awarded a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Army Achievement Medal and the Combat Action Badge for her service. She sustained serious injuries — including the loss of both of her legs — in Afghanistan. A mother of two, she served with a military police unit in Logar Province, Afghanistan. She volunteered to be gunner on a humanitarian mission, delivering rice and beans to a remote village. Downes normally served as a driver. "It was a peaceful, nice day," Downes recalls. "I was just looking at the mountains, because Afghanistan has really pretty scenery in some places. ... I remember seeing the snowflakes falling down, because it started snowing." Her last memory of that day is of the driver of her truck shifting into gear to go up a steep mountain. When she woke up, she was in Landstuhl Hospital in Germany. Downes' truck had hit two anti-tank mines, killing two people. The impact twisted the truck like a washcloth, Downes was later told. She ended up under the turret shield. Because it was snowing heavily, she couldn't be flown out of the region. Instead, she was taken by truck to a nearby Greek-run NATO hospital. There, doctors performed surgery on her lacerated liver and intestines. They also amputated both of her legs.
Army SSgt. Travis Dunn
(Purple Heart Recipient) (2) Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with Valor. While stationed with Hunter Army Airfield-based Bravo Company 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and deployed, on Dec. 2, 2014 to Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, with three enemy fighters firing on the combined assault team of U.S. Army Rangers and Afghan commandos, then-Sgt. Travis Dunn moved toward the targets, laying down suppressive fire that allowed his teammates to move into a better position. Dunn, who during the firefight was shot in the upper torso and fell from an embankment into a courtyard below where he was rescued by Anderson, was also presented the Purple Heart, his second. The Army’s official record of those Rangers’ actions that day only tell a portion of the story of his troops, said battalion commander Lt. Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, “The citations ... don’t even come close to expressing the significance of these Rangers’ actions,” Tegtmeier said. “These citations don’t come close because the actions ... come from years of preparation, years of sweat, pain, discomfort, sometimes blood, frustration, sometimes failure, followed by success and achievement. “Rangers will go anywhere, anytime, under any conditions to protect our country, our people and our freedom. Of this you can be sure today, tomorrow and for thousands of tomorrows to come.”
Marine CPL John Fleegel
(Purple Heart Recipient) While conducting operations in Anbar Provence outside of Al Karma, Iraq the vehicle CPL John Fleegel was traveling in was struck by a road side bomb (IED). He, along with 13 others, were ejected from the vehicle. Along with a severe concussion and some minor shrapnel wounds, he suffered spinal and wrist contusions.
MO Air National Guard SSGT Troy Green
(Purple Heart Recipient) During operations in Jalalabad, Afghanistan Ssgt Troy Green suffered a severe concussion and mild TBI as well as 3 fractured vertebrate. Injuries were sustained during an attack on his FOB, initiated by a 300 lb. VBIED.
Army E4-SPC Daniel Guerin
(Purple Heart Recipient) Bio Pending.
Marine CPL Rory Hamill
(Purple Heart Recipient) When CPL Rory Hamill was deployed to Marjah, Afghanistan for his third tour, his squad received on the ground intel that there was an IED in a compound near their position. The squad set up security around the site, he took the minesweeper off his pointman's back, swept three quarters of the compound before stepping on a low metallic pressure plate, setting off 20 lbs. of homemade explosives buried five feet behind him. Instantly his leg was sheared off, and he tried to initiate self-aid until his brothers got to him. After being worked on by the Corpsman and loaded on the MEDIVAC, he flat-lined for 2 minutes on the way to the Shock Trauma Unit at Camp Bastion/Camp Leatherneck.
USN SRC Senior Chief James Hatch
(Purple Heart Recipient) E-8 Senior Chief James Hatch was shot at close range with an AK-47 on a hostage rescue mission in 2009. He was part of 150 Direct Action Combat Missions. As a K9 handler on several deployments, James’ life was regularly spared by the work of K9s – one of the most memorable was Spike. And on James’ final deployment, the night he was critically wounded, a K9 saved James’ life while losing his own. From that evening on, James oriented his life around the training, care and preservation of working dogs. Jimmy founded Spikes K9 Fund after his recovery. Spikes K9 Fund is a 501c3 Tax-Exempt Organization. In addition to working as the founder and president of the fund, he works with local law enforcement and has adopted a former service dog in need of medical attention.
Marine SSgt Matt Koetting
(Purple Heart Recipient) Ssgt Matt Koetting was injured in an IED blast in February of 2010, in Marjah, Afghanistan. He sustained multiple trauma injuries, but the predominant challenge was the resulting loss of his right eye. He returned to full duty status in 2011 and ultimately retired due to lasting effects of injuries and further complications.
Army SGT Ryan Mack
(Purple Heart Recipient) Sgt. Ryan Mack was in the Battle of Marjah, Afghanistan 2010. While serving as a reconnaissance team leader, his team was working security for a group of engineers attempting to clear a road for a larger group to move through. The engineers missed the IED and his truck found it. Sgt. Mack broke every bone from the knee down in both legs and had a minor TBI.
Air Force MSG Angela Morales-Biggs
(Purple Heart Recipient) On 28 August 2011, E-7 Angela Morales-Biggs was physically attacked by an SVBIED at FOB Smart Afghanistan. Shortly after, they received small arms fire and another direct blast exposure from a SVEST IED. They then were impacted by RPG rounds and 5 grenade rounds and a second RPG. She was approximately 60 meters from impact and was thrown from where she stood, suffering puncture and blast wounds/TBI.
Marine SSG James Ownbey
(Purple Heart Recipient) Ssgt/E-6 James Ownbey's team was attacked with small arms fire and a large IED detonated under their vehicle. The vehicle was thrown about 30ft in the air, landing on some power lines. If it wasn't for the MRAP vehicle and a miracle they would be dead. They were than medivaced out. He sustained a TBI and broken back, and later developed blood clots and Osteopenia. The softening of the bones and the blood clots lead to coughing and breaking ribs. One rib punctured his lung causing internal bleeding. His pituitary gland was partially damaged and now he has hormone issues. Also, the front left part of his brain is dead. His balance and cognitive part of his brain are also affected.
Army CPL Marissa Strock
(Purple Heart Recipient) Corporal Marissa Strock joined the United States Army in 2004. She was trained to become a Military Police Officer and was sent to her first duty station at Ft. Lewis, Washington with the 170th Military Police Company. Her unit had already deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and Marissa quickly joined them. Her unit was tasked with the training and security of multiple Iraqi police stations. On Thanksgiving Day 2005, the vehicle Marissa was in was struck by four artillery rounds buried in the road. The blast killed two Americans and an Iraqi Police Colonel. Marissa survived, but lost both legs, and suffered multiple broken bones and a traumatic brain injury which left her in a coma for four weeks. And it did "get bad" for Strock while she served as a gunner during reconnaissance missions. She witnessed eight attacks with explosive weapons and described an incident in which her team assisted badly burned soldiers after an ambush on a fuel convoy. On Thanksgiving Day in 2005, while patrolling the southern Baghdad area known as the "Triangle of Death," her Humvee was hit by a command-detonated IED. It was a violent blast that instantly killed both the team leader, Staff Sgt. Steven Reynolds, and the driver, Spc. Marc A. Delgado. Strock was thrown backward by the explosion and knocked unconscious.
Marine SGT Ingrid Underwood
(Purple Heart Recipient) Sgt Ingrid Underwood was assigned to 1/2 as part of the FET team (female engagement team) to help her brothers search females at specific check points. However, the mission turned into something different and they were attached to 3rdPlt (weapons) as part of helping man power since they were shorthanded. On April 2nd, 2010 they were dropped off near the Panda Ridge area by helo. In the midst of the events that day, from taking fire to returning fire, they started to run down the ridge. They got to the bottom of the ridge and to seek cover and a personal IED detonated near Sgt Underwood. That is the last thing she remembers. She was medevaced to camp bastion were she received medical attention for her injuries.
2017 Ambassador Warriors
Marine GSGT Sam Deeds
(Purple Heart Recipient) During his Iraq deployment in 2005, Deeds came across an improvised explosive device (IED) while setting up a vehicle checkpoint near Abu Ghraib Prison. When he saw two of his fellow Marines approaching the area, Deeds turned back toward the IED to warn them of danger. Moments after successfully warding off his comrades, the device blew. “It basically leveled me,” he said. His injuries set him on a path of nearly 40 operations and procedures to date. For his actions, Deeds received a Purple Heart, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, a Combat Action Ribbon and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. The moment he put his colleagues’ lives ahead of his own may have cemented his legacy as a military hero, but he wasn’t finished sacrificing his own welfare. In 2008, Deeds was recuperating from one of many surgeries–this one to repair a high-incision hernia. The surgical area was sutured and covered with a protective mesh. The doctors told him to avoid any strenuous activity for eight weeks. Six weeks into his recovery, Deeds was relaxing with his family on a beach when a woman was carried away by a rip tide. The woman’s husband and another man tried to save her, but all three were overcome by the current. “People were taking pictures and videos with their phones, and nobody was going to do anything,” he said. “I couldn’t let the guy drown in front of his family.” Deeds plunged into the rip tide and helped all three return safely to shore. The protective mesh and two sutures tore away, leaving a hernia so close to his sternum he opted not to have any more surgery. He’s been living with pain ever since. Deeds medically retired from the marines in 2011 with the rank of gunnery sergeant. Over the course of his injury-shortened career, he served in Iraq, Japan, South Korea, and Haiti (twice). He also has worked in Greater Cincinnati as a recruiter.
Marine SGT Daniel Erlandson
(Purple Heart Recipient) Daniel Erlandson was born November 16, 1983 in Everett Washington. He is married to Theresa Erlandson and they just celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary on January 7th. Daniel has three sisters, one is older and two are younger. He joined the United States Marine Corps April 21, 2008. Joining the Marine Corps was a lifelong dream, and becoming a Marine is still one of the proudest moments of his life. Daniel served as a 0331 Machine Gunner and spent the majority of his career with 3rd Battalion 4th Marines (Darkside). He deployed with ¾ three times to Afghanistan: 2009, 2011, and 2013. On his second deployment in 2011, he was deployed to Upper Gereshk Valley in northern Helmand Province. On May 31st, while operating as lead vehicle turret gunner, his truck hit an IED. Everyone was OK in the explosion, but he did suffer a mild TBI. Three days later on June 3rd while on a dismounted foot patrol, his squad was ambushed and came under fire. Eventually the enemy broke contact and they headed back to their patrol base. They were then commanded to go back out to the same area even though they knew it was a bad idea and tried to deny it. Upon leaving again, they got close to the same area they came under fire the first time, and again took fire. This time they were taking fire from multiple enemy positions. As Daniel was trying to direct his machine gun squad, an enemy round ricochet off the wall where he was trying to take cover and struck the back of his shoulder. Quick Reaction Force came to pick him up via vehicle to get him to a safe area to be picked up in a helicopter. One of the Marines in the truck that picked him up was Corporal Zanowick, an incredible Marine. After dropping Daniel off, Corporal Zanowick was then forced to go back out and ended up being shot and killed no more than an hour after Daniel was shot. Daniel was taken out of the fight, and had to leave his guys for the rest of the deployment, and then to top it off he found out they lost Zanowick. That took a very strong toll on him then, and still affects him to this day.
Army SPC Halsey Hinson
(Purple Heart Recipient) Halsey Hinson was born April 24, 1981 in Columbia, South Carolina. She joined active duty Army in January 2003 and completed her Basic and AIT at Fort Leonard Wood. She reported to her first duty station in May 2003 as a Military Police Officer and in November of 2004 received the highly revered award of becoming a mother. One year later, Halsey deployed to Baghdad, Iraq with 258 Mp Company, 519th Mp Battalion. On August 9, 2006 her convoy was struck by IED totally disabling the vehicle. She received minor shrapnel to the wrist and burns to the face and wrist which led to a Purple Heart. All other team members in the vehicle also received minor injuries. She returned to duty the following day. She returned home in October of 2006. In January of 2008 she returned home to South Carolina and joined the National Guard for 18 months.
Marine CPL Josh Hoffman
(Purple Heart Recipient) CPL Joshua Hoffman was injured on the battlefield of Afghanistan, August 6th, 2011. His primary job and responsibility as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan was to find any and all bombs that would prevent infantry and follow-on forces from completing their mission. He was on what was supposed to be his last mission when he found three bombs, and while determining the size of the third bomb his foot inadvertently set it off. The blast blew his left leg off, broke his right knee and femur in half, gave him a grade 4 concussion, severe short term memory loss, and extensive damage to the rest of his body. He was then medically retired from the Marine Corps after he rehabilitated in 2013 and has since had his first child and bought his first home with his wife and son. Joshua said, “Every day is a constant struggle, but with the support of my family, friends, and neighbors I always just bear down and carry on through the day. Life is what you make it and I am trying to make my second chance count. - SemperFi”
Marine LCPL John MacNaughton
(Purple Heart Recipient) LCPL John MacNaughton enlisted in the summer of 2003 a week after he turned 18. He spent a year in the delayed entry program and upon graduating high school in June he left for boot camp. John graduated on September 17th, 2004. After graduating from infantry training school he checked into 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment on December 18th. He was deployed to Iraq less than a month later. John was deployed again, this time to Ramadi, Iraq in March of 2006. His last deployment was with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in July of 2007. He left active service after four years in June of 2008. On the night on March 20, 2005, at about 2030 hours, John’s squad led by GSGT Deeds was conducting a routine vehicle check point on Kandari Market Road just outside of Abu Grahib prison in Iraq. They had set up a perimeter and he was posted on the machine gun mounted in the back of a High Back Humvee. John was scanning roof tops and windows with a night vision sight when suddenly there was a massive explosion behind him and to his right. He was knocked unconscious and thrown to the floor. John said, “I remembered hearing and feeling the debris falling all around me as I regained consciousness. I jumped up and looked where SGT Deeds had stood next to me but I did not see him there. I caught a glimpse of Doc Harerra dragging SGT Deeds around the front of the Humvee. At first I couldn’t feel anything. My adrenaline was pumping and I was on high alert. Confused and disoriented, I checked my sector of fire to see if there were any targets. Seeing nothing, I started to help with the med-evac. I grabbed the stretcher and tried to open it but couldn’t. Then I felt something cold run down my back and start to drip. I wasn’t sure if it was blood but guessed I had been hit and told Lance Corporal Dean to notify our command. I was in shock and didn’t know what else to do. I felt helpless and confused. “ After they loaded SGT Deeds into the back of the Humvee they rushed back into the prison, to the hospital. Once SGT Deeds had received attention he asked someone to look at his back and they confirmed that he had been hit and was bleeding. Inside the hospital, X-Rays confirmed John had shrapnel in his upper back and shoulders, but it was too deep to take out. Eleven years later one piece has come out and another is still in his right shoulder.
Air Force MSG Adam McLeod
(Purple Heart Recipient) Adam McLeod served nearly 18 years in the US Air Force. His first 12 ½ years he served as a Security Police/Forces and a K-9 handler. He was honorably retired in 2010 as an E-7, Air Force Master Sergeant. He has deployed 10 times, two of which were combat deployments while in uniform. His final deployment was to Afghanistan as an advisor to Regional Command West (RC-W) forces on improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Adam was assigned to Camp Bastion/Leatherneck supporting US Marine Corps tactical units as well as other units assigned to and/or transient through the base. His awards include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service, Purple Heart and Air Force Commendation medals. In 2007, Adam selected a voluntary deployment to Camp Fallujah, Fallujah, Iraq as an analyst assigned to a US Marine Corps explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) detachment. He was tasked to conduct tactical exploitation and forensic analysis of IEDs. He used his analysis to identify IED cells in the area, suggest countermeasures to tactical units and provide information to direct action units. It was during this deployment where an already aggravated back condition deteriorated into his second back surgery in 2008. He lost a significant amount of hearing, no doubt due to IED blasts. Following the deployment, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and ultimately medically boarded out of the Air Force three days prior to his 18th year military anniversary.
Marine LCPL Ryan Meadows
(Purple Heart Recipient) LCPL Ryan Meadows enlisted April 12, 2004. Following recruit training and School of Infantry, he was sent to 3rd Battalion 8th Marines Kilo Co. In January of 2005 he was sent to Fallujah, Iraq and spent the next 7 months in combat operations. July 17th, 2005 he sustained a traumatic brain injury from an improved explosive device. Following Fallujah, Ryan deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in 2006. They operated in Ramadi from March 2006 to September 2006. Ramadi at the time was the most hostile area in Iraq and they stayed in sustained combat daily. Following Ramadi, he deployed with 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). He did training operations in Kuwait, Djibouti, Africa, and anti-piracy ops off the coast of Somalia. In April 2008 Ryan was honorably discharged from the Marines.
Air Force SSgt Zac Ruttman
(Purple Heart Recipient) Zac Ruttman is a 37 year old resident of Owasso, OK and a full-time student. He is married, has a seven year old boy and loves both of them very much. He was part of the Tactical Forces Group (Team 2) in Iraq 2004-2005. He was in a Humvee turret as the heavy gunner when their vehicle took a direct hit from two IEDs followed by small arms fire. He sustained shrapnel to his back, neck, and head and ruptured his right ear. Zac said, “Most of the injuries were superficial due to the outstanding armor. After several surgeries and inpatient rehab, I am is about 80% recovered with minor limitations. I feel truly blessed and very well taken care of.” He was awarded (in his seven year career) over two dozen medals and ribbons including the Combat Action Medal, the Commendation Medal with Valor, the Purple Heart, and Oklahoma’s ‘Outstanding Soldier of the Year’ in 2006.
Marine LCPL Nick Siewert
(Purple Heart Recipient) LCPL Nick Siewert graduated high school in 2004 and served in the Marine Corps from 2004-2008. He was deployed to Iraq as a Machine Gunner two times to Fallujah (2005) and Ramadi (2006) in the 22nd MEU 2007. Since its activation in 1982, the 22nd MEU has been awarded two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards, four Navy Unit Commendations, five Meritorious Unit Commendations, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer with two stars, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer with two stars, the Armed Forces Service Streamer with three stars, the Southwest Asia Service streamer with two stars, the Afghanistan Campaign streamer, the Iraq Campaign Streamer, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary streamer and the Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer. Nick received his Purple Heart in 2005 in Fallujah. He was assigned to the 3/8 and was attached to the Lima Company as a 0331.
Army SSG Joel Tavera
(Purple Heart Recipient) Army Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera is one of those truly remarkable people who, if you spend even a few minutes talking to him, any problems you think you have fade away. Tavera was horrifically injured in Iraq on March 12, 2008, in an attack that killed three others and wounded Tavera and another soldier. Tavera, who was volunteering for a mission shortly before he was supposed to head home, remembers a rocket exploding near his up-armored Chevy Suburban. Then came a panic attack. He opened the door. Then came the whistle – the sound of another rocket, heading straight for the Suburban. He was severely burned, had traumatic brain injury, lost part of his right leg, the sight in both his eyes, the fingers on his left hand and had to undergo many painful surgeries. Fast forward a few years. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue’s Kelly Hallman heard that Tavera needed a home. When not fighting fires, Kelly is an architect and, among other things, designs houses. So, working with the Building Homes for Heroes, a non-profit that supports the needs of severely wounded or disabled veterans and their families through building mortgage-free homes, Hallman designed a home for someone who couldn’t walk and needed full-time nursing. Hallman tells a funny story about what happened when Tavera learned of the plans. His response as he walked up to Hallman with a prosthetic on his right leg speaks volumes for a recovery that can only be considered miraculous. “He said, ‘Get that out of my house,’” Hallman says of Tavera’s response to being told of plans for wheelchair access, a nursing station and a therapy room. “I don’t need that.’ I said, ‘You are right, you don’t need that,’ and I took it out.” Joel continues to be a strong role model in showing people that they can move forward and make a difference regardless of their setbacks.
Marine Sgt Steve Thompson
(Purple Heart Recipient) Sgt Steve Thompson served in 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment, an infantry battalion out of the 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejuene, NC. He was a Sgt Squad Leader with 3 deployments to Fallujah, Iraq, Ramadi, Iraq and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. On the same day Major Gen. Richard A. Huck presented the award to Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Slattery, Staff Sgt. Ronald Jacobs, Lance Cpls. John MacNaughton, Andrew Hulkow, Stephen R. Thompson, Nicholas Siewert and Vincent A. Hawkins, and Private Derrell Odom, thanking them for the sacrifice they made. Many marines were injured that day from Third Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Battalion. Several of them are Warrior Weekend Alumni.
Air Force SMSgt Kevin Wallace
(Purple Heart Recipient) SMSgt Kevin Wallace is the chief of Public Affairs at the 89th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. SMSgt Wallace is responsible for providing guidance and counsel to the 89th AW commander, Presidential Airlift Group commander, subordinate commanders and wing staff. SMSgt Wallace entered the Air Force in September 1997. He served an extended overseas tour in Okinawa, an overseas tour in the U.K., and multiple deployments, including two combat tours in Afghanistan. SMSgt Wallace is a warfighter, and was recognized by the Air Force Chief of Staff in his 2012 Portraits in Courage. After one brutal combat engagement in Afghanistan, his Platoon Leader recalled “Wallace immediately returned fire, augmenting between camera and rifle, firing 119 rounds and 190 photos.” After SMSgt Wallace and four others were hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, the Platoon Leader recalled, “Wallace continued to fire his weapon and to call out enemy positions even after being thrown against a wall, knocked unconscious and receiving burns to his neck. When I called for status south of our fighting position, disregarding his own life and personal safety, Wallace willingly exposed himself to hails of heavy PKM (heavy machine gun) fire three times to verify no insurgents were flanking the south, allowing elements to maneuver south to the CasEvac site without a single soldier being killed. Some of SMSgt Wallace’s major awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, multiple Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Army Combat Action Badge, Army Valorous Unit Award, and multiple Air Force Recognition Ribbons. He has also won dozens of Air Force and Major Command level awards and was recognized by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom with the Exceptional Community Relations award for his work with Prince Harry for American and British Wounded Warriors in the UK. He remains active in community service, and mentors and participates in many Air Force Wounded Warrior Program events, as well as Wounded Warrior Project, Boy Scouts of America, and Lutheran Church events in Northern Virginia.