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Archives: April 2010


‘You can’t call a time out in a war zone,’ winner of 2 silver stars says after ceremony honoring 11 airmen at Lewis-McChord

Machine gun rounds flew all around him from 30 feet away. He sprinted through the fire to a position from which he could attack. He shot a rocket-propelled grenade into a room occupied by Taliban fighters.

And when that didn’t clear them out, Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell dodged the gunfire again, covering his team as he went.

Then he called in airstrikes that reportedly killed more than 50 insurgents in Central Afghanistan’s Helmand River area.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell

Those were the local airman’s heroics on just one day, “during a savage eight-hour firefight,” according to his Air Force citation.

It earned Harvell a Silver Star award. He earned another two months earlier.

A rocket-propelled grenade knocked him out and shrapnel tore at his flesh. When he roused, bleeding from several wounds, he grabbed his M-4 carbine, an M-12 shotgun and grenades, fighting back hard while directing airstrikes.

“When I came to, I gathered my faculties as much as I could,” Harvell recalled Thursday after a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “You can’t call a time out in a war zone.”

His gallantry under fire over three days in May and July 2007 earned the now-27-year-old combat air controller the nation’s third-highest decoration for valor.

The Air Force has awarded only 29 Silver Stars for service in Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff.

Three were presented Thursday. And Harvell wears two of them.

To see a story and photos on the 62nd Airlift Wing website, click here.

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Air Force awards 3 Silver Stars, 8 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts to McChord airmen

Eleven Joint Base Lewis-McChord airmen received awards for gallantry and battlefield wounds this morning during a ceremony steeped in patriotic pomp and serious symbolism at McChord Field.

One of the recipients, Staff Sgt. Sean R. Harvell, received two Silver Stars earned during the same six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan during 2007.

Officials said he’s the only Air Force combat controller to earn two of the medals – the nation’s third highest military decoration – at the same time.

All 11 decorated airmen were members of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron at McChord Field at the time of their

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord airmen to receive Silver Stars, other medals Thursday

One Joint Base Lewis-McChord airman will receive two Silver Stars in a single ceremony – a rarity – during ceremonies at McChord Field. Another airman also will be pinned with a Silver Star.

Their awards will be among some 13 medals presented to members of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron for combat actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell, a combat controller, will receive the two Silver Stars; Staff Sgt. Evan Jones will be awarded the other, both being recognized for valor in Afghanistan.

The Silver Star is the nation’s third highest military honor.

Eight Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts also are to be presented. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz is to preside over the ceremony, as is and Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, Air Force Special Operations Command commander.

Here’s the press release from the 446th Airlift Wing website:

22nd Special Tactics Squadron Airmen to receive Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts

4/27/2010 – JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Approximately 13 medals will be awarded to Airmen of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, during a ceremony here at 9 a.m. April 29.

The medals are being awarded for combat actions during the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the ceremony, Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell will be the first Air Force combat controller to receive two Silver Star medals in a single ceremony. The Silver Star is the nation’s third highest decoration for valor.

Staff Sgt. Evan Jones, also a combat controller, will also receive a Silver Star. Both Airmen are being recognized for their actions during firefights against enemy forces in Afghanistan.

Additionally, eight Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts will be presented to the special tactics Airmen during the ceremony presided over by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, Air Force Special Operations Command commander.

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Joey Caron’s dedication to country “remarkable,” commanding general says

Army Spc. Joseph T. “Joey” Caron “lived every day God gave him to the fullest” and was a dedicated soldier with a remarkable love for his country, his commanding general in Afghanistan wrote The News Tribune in a Letter to the Editor.

Parkland native Caron, 21, died in a bomb blast April 11 while on foot patrol in the Arghandab River Valley near Kandahar. Some 500 people attended funeral services for the 2007 Washington High School graduate on Sunday. He was buried with military honors at Mountain View Memorial Park.

Caron, a paratrooper, was a member of the 4th Brigade,

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Some 500 pay tribute to Pierce County soldier, 21, killed by bomb blast in Afghanistan

Pierce County buried a hometown hero Sunday.

U.S. Army Spc. Joseph T. “Joey” Caron was remembered as a man of many facets and talents who possessed one driving force: protecting freedom for family and friends.

Spc. Joseph T. "Joey" Caron

He was a courageous paratrooper, a prankster, a protective and attentive brother. He would give a fellow soldier his last drink of water; put on a proud smile and confident glare as he took off on a trough assignment; assume the persona of Forrest Gump and earn belly laughs with his on-the-mark portrayals of the aw-shucks movie character, friends and family members said.

And he was very much loved.

An estimated 500 people attended funeral services for the 21-year-old soldier at Washington High School, from which the Parkland native graduated in 2007.

Less than three years into the Army duty he long dreamed of, Caron died April 11 from a bomb blast while on foot patrol in Afghanistan’s Arghandab River Valley. He was a member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.

On Sunday, he was eulogized by a commanding general, a machinist’s mate 3rd class, an acting police lieutenant, a classmate, a karate instructor, a high school principal, a platoon sergeant and many others.

“If it wasn’t for the Joeys in the world, we wouldn’t have a lot of the freedoms that we do,” said karate sifu Cliff Lenderman, who presented Caron’s family with his black belt Sunday morning. He was among many who reverently called the young soldier a hero.

The Army posthumously awarded Caron the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and other medals. His casket, borne by six fellow paratroopers, passed through a Patriot Guard Riders honor line of some 60 American flags. And he was buried with military honors, including a 21-gun salute, at Mountain View Memorial Park.

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Stryker soldier dies in Iraq of noncombat-related injuries

The Department of Defense announced today the death of Staff Sgt. Christopher D. Worrell, a Stryker soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Worrell, 35, died April 22 in Baghdad of injuries sustained in a noncombat-related incident, a news release from Joint Base Lewis-McChord said.

Worrell was from Virginia Beach, Va., and was assigned to the 702nd Combat Support Battalion, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

The news release from Lewis-McChord states that Worrell enlisted on Feb. 13, 1997, and was assigned to Fort Lewis in 1998. He joined the Stryker brigade in 2005.

This was

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Honor flight for WWII vets will be a first

A group of 10 Puget Sound area World War II veterans will get a free trip to Washington, D.C. next month to visit the National World War II Memorial – a special way for them to observe the 65th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.

organization is taking members of the Army, Army Air Corps, Coast Guard and Navy. Among the group are South Sound residents Henry Smith of Spanaway (a former B-17 ball turret gunner) and Robert and Geneva Russell of Lacey (both Navy veterans). We hope

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Thunderbirds flew at McChord shows five times since 1993 – and mingled once with a flock of vintage cars

Writing about the Thunderbird-less Joint-Base Lewis McChord Air Expo July 17-18 got folks in our newsroom wondering exactly how many times the elite Air Force precision flying team has appeared in recent years.

The answer: Five  since 1993. That’s an average of about once every 3.5 years. To many, it just seems like they’ve been here more often because the Thunderbirds’ high-octane F-16 spins and roles, tight formations and seeming near misses at ear-splitting speeds are so memorable.

I’ve got my own indelible memories from the 1999 show. As members of the Rainier South Sound Vintage Thunderbird Club (cars, not airplanes) my husband and I were invited for special duty. Well, actually our cherry red 1963 T-Bird convertible got the coveted invitation. We came along for the ride.

Several members from our club cruised our vintage Ford T-Birds over to the McChord flightline, where they posed for photographs next to the Air Force’s flying variety.

Thunderbirds – vintage Ford vehicles and screaming fast Air Force aircraft – flock together on the McChord flightline during the 1999 Air Expo.

My husband, Ron, was among club members who drove their T-Birds across the field to pick up the pilots and deliver them to their aircraft prior to their performance. The pilots rode atop the back seats of the convertibles, waving to the crowd, parade style (or were those Beauty Queen Waves?)

Though the Thunderbirds of the flying variety won’t appear at this year’s McChord Field Air Expo, Maj. Ben Jonsson promises  an forgettable show with the Patriots Jet Team, a precision flying crew that performs “tail slides,” with aircraft backing down through the air. A variety of other acts will include strafing runs, paratroopers, C-17 demonstrations, vintage aircraft, a narrated dogfight and a stunt pilot who lands his small plane on a moving truck.

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