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USAF Staff Sergeant Zachary Rhyner - Someone You Should Know

Posted By Blackfive • [March 03, 2009]

Erik H. sent this story is from the same place as Specialist Carter (Combat Cameraman) and the ten Silver Stars awarded to a team from the 3rd SFGA.

Pope Airman to get medal for valor
By Henry Cuningham
Staff writer

A Pope Air Force Base combat controller is scheduled to receive the Air Force’s second highest award for valor on March 10 in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Staff Sgt. Zachary J. Rhyner will receive the Air Force Cross for his actions on April 6 in the Shok Valley in Afghanistan. Although shot in the left leg, he called in airstrikes, fired his M-4 rifle at the enemy and helped move other wounded people down a cliff.

Rhyner is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command’s 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope. At the time of the incident, Rhyner was a senior airman who had completed training less than a year earlier.

Combat controllers train for two years at Pope and elsewhere to do mostly covert missions in hostile territory. The “battlefield airmen” can parachute or infiltrate into enemy territory to set up drop zones, do air-traffic control or call in aircraft to shoot or drop bombs on the enemy. They often work on an Army Special Forces or Navy SEAL team and fight alongside soldiers and sailors while summoning Air Force firepower from overhead. The aircraft often are firing near “friendly” forces on the ground.

Rhyner is credited with saving his team from being overrun twice in a 6-hour battle in the Shok Valley. Members of A-Team 3336 from Fort Bragg’s 3rd Special Forces Group received 10 Silver Stars, the Army’s third highest award for combat valor, for their actions in that engagement....

Go read the whole story at the Fayetteville Observer.


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