A Special Tactics Combat Controller (CCT) has been awarded the Silver Star for saving the Special Forces team he was attached to from being overrun by Taliban fighters.

Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Chris Grove received the Silver Star in a ceremony on November 15. The Silver Star is the nation’s third-highest award for valor under fire.

“I’m grateful that [leadership] valued the actions that day and sought out this upgrade,” said CMSgt Grove. “Within our formation, we are fortunate that we have those leaders, both military and civilian, that take care of our people and what they do.”

CMSgt Grove was attached to a Special Force Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) as a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC). While the team was patrolling an area, they were ambushed by a large Taliban force. In the ensuing chaos, the ground force commander was separated from the rest of the team and was in danger of being overrun. CMSgt Grove found a vantage point from which he directed continuous and effective close air support (CAS), which resulted in the defeat of the Taliban force.

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” said Lieutenant General Slife, the commanding officer of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). “On the 2nd of November, 2007, [CMSgt Grove was] the right Airman at the right place, at the right time, who rose to the occasion brilliantly. Thanks for being our example of the embodiment of the American Airman and a testament to the proud Special Tactics wing.”

According to AFSOC, in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), Air Commandos have received one Medal of Honor, 11 Air Force Crosses and 48 Silver Stars.

“The best of our organization, whom Chief Grove epitomizes, maintain a steady sense of humility balanced with quiet confidence,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Matt Allen, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing. “[Grove] embodies the best of Special Tactics, the best of [Air Force Special Operations Command], and the best of the Air Force.”

Initially, CMSgt Grove had received the Bronze Star for Valor for his actions on that day. But the Air Force, and indeed the military as a whole, has been reviewing military awards from Iraq and Afghanistan for potential upgrades. And during this ongoing review, CMSgt Grove’s actions were deemed worthy of the Silver Star.

“It’s not about me, but more about our Airmen that are hauling the mail daily,” added CMSgt Grove. “There are hundreds of valorous acts, both in the last 18 years and to this day; I appreciate what our Air Force, [Air Force Special Operations Command], and Special Tactics Airmen are doing daily while prosecuting the nation’s business.”