Aside from the adrenaline rush, mental and physical damage, and heartache, war sometimes offers moments of utter incredulity. Moments when warfighters seem invincible to the withering enemy fire; moments when a single warrior turns the tide of a battle by himself.
Technical Sergeant Daniel Keller, an Air Force Combat Controller (CCT) assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron (123rd STS), is such a warrior. His heroics during a 15-hour engagement with Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Afghanistan on August 2017, earned him the Air Force Cross, which is second only to the Medal of Honor.
According to the award citation, Tech. Sgt Keller is directly responsible for the survival of 130 members of the joint special operations assault force, which included by the end of the day 31 wounded in action. Moreover, his actions assisted in the killing of an estimated 50 enemy fighters.
General David Goldfein, the Air Force Chief of Staff, said during the award ceremony that “only 10 Airmen since 9/11 have received this honor. We never know when Airmen like Dan will risk everything for a fellow teammate in a really bad situation, but that’s exactly what he did. As your chief, it gives me great strength to know that the special tactics community will always make the impossible seem effortlessly possible. This is a great day for our Air Force, and may God bless this nation and those like Tech. Sgt. Keller who always have, and always will, defend her.”