Recently, two Air Force Pararescuemen of the 48th Rescue Squadron, Master Sgt. Adam Fagan and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Brudnicki were awarded Bronze Stars with Valor for their actions last year in two separate operations in Afghanistan. The ceremony was held on October 1st at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ. The 12th Air Force commander, Major General Barry Cornish was in attendance. Military Times reported on the event.
Col. Peter White of the 563rd Rescue Group said, “Master Sgt. Adam and Staff Sgt. Ben’s selfless lifesaving actions while under enemy fire are a testament of their personal courage, not uncommon in the rich history of the 563rd Rescue Group and greater Air Force combat rescue community.”
Both of the men were assigned to the 64th Rescue Squadron upon deploying to Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. Fagan’s heroic actions took place in the Helmand Province on March 24-25, 2019 when he was deployed to Kandahar Airfield. Fagan was attached to a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha unit that included a contingent of Afghan Special Forces. Their operation involved conducting a raid deep in Taliban territory, according to a citation provided by 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
According to the release, Fagan’s team was assaulting a compound to eliminate an improvised explosive device (IED) manufacturer. As they were moving towards the compound, an IED detonated, severely wounding one of the Afghan soldiers. Simultaneously, Taliban fighters ambushed the team with small arms and RPGs.
Fagan’s citation said that he attacked the enemy position and laid down covering fire, exposing himself to grave danger. Because of Fagan’s actions, the pinned down team was able to move towards the wounded soldier at which point Fagan began administering medical aid.
He called in a MEDEVAC and moved the soldier to the landing zone, once again, exposing himself to heavy enemy fire. He proceeded to direct further suppressing fire to enable the helicopters to land so that the team could extract.
Fagan said, “Previous training like the Combat Team Leader Course and our spin up at Razor’s Edge with Red Team helped because I knew what I was capable of. I knew what I was physically able to do, I knew I could treat that guy under fire in the dark and training with other rotary wing platforms gave me the confidence to call in a clear nine line quickly.”
The raid resulted in the destruction of a cache of enemy weapons and the killing of five Taliban fighters.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Brudnicki was also in the Helmand Province. He was similarly attached to a Special Forces ODA unit that included a contingent of Afghan Special Forces.
During the night of May 3-4, 2019, the team got out of their vehicles and began moving towards a Taliban stronghold. Once they entered the first compound, they could see the Taliban getting their weapons ready to counterattack. There were rifle holes in the compound, which the Taliban used to shoot out. Yet, the team was able to use these same holes to shoot at the insurgents.
A close-quarters fight ensued; an RPG was shot at a wall that he and others were using as cover, but fortunately didn’t detonate.
During the firefight, a civilian was wounded. According to the citation, Brudnicki crossed an exposed courtyard, “with complete disregard for his own safety and braving effective enemy fire from an adjacent compound.” He got to the civilian and began providing medical care.
Brudnicki was then told that an Afghan soldier had been severely wounded by a gunshot wound. The Afghan commandos were struggling to get to him because they were pinned down.
In response, Brudnicki again crossed the courtyard and assaulted the Taliban. This allowed the Afghan soldiers to retrieve their wounded teammate. The citation stated that Brudnicki proceeded to treat the wounded soldier, facilitating a blood transfer, and coordinating a medical evacuation.
Brudnicki killed seven Taliban fighters, one of which was a Taliban commander. He also saved two lives, the Air Force stated.
In the release, Brudnicki credited his team: “It is an honor to be recognized. However, the experience and brotherhood created with my team overseas is the most valuable piece for me. The Air Force best utilizes its special warfare assets when putting them to work in the joint environment, and I am proud to be a part of that.”