For most service members, earning a Bronze Star with a “V” device (signifying heroism or valor in combat) could be the highlight of a long career. A Silver Star, which is the third-highest medal for valor bestowed by the U.S. armed forces, would be an even greater and uncommon accomplishment. The U.S. Air Force now has plans to award not one, but both of these prestigious medals to a Special Tactics Airman from California.
Tech. Sgt. Cam Kelsch, a tactical air control party operator serving in the 17th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, will soon receive both a Silver Star and Bronze Star with “V” device for two separate missions conducted in Afghanistan during the same deployment. Both medals are being awarded for battles in which Kelsch risked his life in order to save the lives of others.
While many of the details of these operations remain classified, the Air Force has released that the first of these two engagements took place on April 25, 2018, when Kelsch was serving alongside Army Rangers tasked with neutralizing a high-value target. Kelsh served as the joint terminal attack controller for that operation, coordinating air support throughout the firefight.
While receiving accurate fires from the enemy and with no regard for his own personal safety, Kelsch exposed himself to danger in order to control airstrikes from an AC-130 gunship using 40mm air-to-ground munitions [within] 35-40 meters of his team’s position,” according to the Silver Star citation.