‘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.
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.
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