Bravery comes in many forms, but combat is where it shines brightest. On June 27, Captain (ret.) Christopher C. Palumbo received the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), the nation’s second-highest award for valor under fire, for saving the lives of a Special Forces team in Afghanistan in 2005.

The then-Chief Warrant Officer Third Class (CWO-3) Palumbo used his UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter as a shield to protect the team from withering Taliban fire. Initially, Captain Palumbo had received the Silver Star—the nation’s third-highest award for valor—but under the current policy of re-examining military awards, the Army decided to upgrade it to a DSC.

The award citation states that “Chief Warrant Officer Three Palumbo inserted the Special Forces team to neutralize the threat. The soldiers were successful, but they didn’t realize that most of the insurgents were embedded in the caves. Two of the ground troops were hit and when the Apaches [AH-64 choppers that were flying as combat escort on that day] had to leave to refuel, the Black Hawks were left to provide support and protection for their comrades on the ground.”

Captain Palumbo was a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, Combined Joint Task Force 76.