December 6, 2013, Westhampton Beach, New York: The 103rd Rescue Squadron hosted a ceremony to commemorate the awarding of Bronze Stars with “V” device to six Air Force Pararescuemen for an extraordinary rescue mission under fire in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan last year. The Air National Guardsmen of the 103rd, made famous by their portrayal in the book and film, The Perfect Storm, were recognized by Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement he released describing the harrowing rescue, which can be read below. I have to give a special HooYah to my old pipeline buddy and former Army Ranger Anthony Yusup, still “Living by the Motto.” Awesome job, guys- BK

From Governor Cuomo’s statement:

On Dec. 10, 2012, the six 103rd Rescue Squadron Airmen were the Guardian Angel team assigned to man two HH-60 Pavehawk rescue helicopters flown by members of the 55th Rescue Squadron, an Active Air Force unit. A platoon of about 25 Soldiers had been ambushed and four Soldiers, including one of the Americans who later died, were very badly injured.

The unit was still under Taliban fire as the two helicopters approached the scene. One of the helicopters moved into the area to put the three-man team of Yusup, Dougherty, and Petersen on the ground first.

As the helicopter moved in to off-load the three Airmen it came under machine gun fire which continued as the men moved to linkup with the American and Afghan infantrymen who were sheltering behind a mud wall. Two rocket propelled grenades hit the ground five meters away from the Air Guardsmen as they began to conduct triage on the wounded Soldiers.

We’re all mad, you know.

Yusup, the leader of that three-man element, elected to remain in the open while exposed to enemy fire so that he could control the casualty collection point and direct timely casualty treatment.

Dougherty and Peterson ignored the enemy fire and began immediate treatment to save the lives of the injured men. When rocket propelled grenades hit nearby they covered the wounded with their own bodies.

Meanwhile, the lead helicopter Pedro 61 landed to off-load the other three Guardsmen: Maloney, the Combat Rescue Officer; Blom, the team noncommissioned officer in charge; and Zimmer. All three men ran across open ground despite the enemy fire to help in treating and moving the casualties.