Security forces NCO earns Bronze Star with Valor

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Megan P. Lyon
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
An NCO with the 366th Security Forces Squadron here was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor and the Army Commendation Medal here July 19 for his actions Aug. 8, 2006, in Qalat Province, Afghanistan.

Nearly a year ago, Staff Sgt. Jason Kimberling was part of a three-person security forces convoy team called upon to assist about 15 members of the Afghan national police and 20 members of the Afghan national army when they came under attack from Taliban forces on a highway checkpoint in Afghanistan's Qalat Province.

In a nearby village believed to be harboring insurgent forces, a force of more than 100 Taliban foreign fighters unleashed an intense, coordinated ambush with rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms and machine-gun fire against the group.

The initial RPG came within five meters of Sergeant Kimberling's vehicle, followed by numerous other RPGs and small-arms fire from at least five machine-gun positions concealed in a nearby residential compound.

The driver of the Humvee in which Sergeant Kimberling was riding immediately maneuvered to take cover. Sergeant Kimberling then dismounted the vehicle and moved into position to return fire, however, his position was directly struck by an RPG. The blast was so violent that both Sergeant Kimberling and a fellow security forces Airman were thrown to the ground.

While taking cover, Sergeant Kimberling peered over a wall and identified two enemy Taliban fighters emerge from a house and open fire on his position.

With enemy fire now coming into his position from three sides, Sergeant Kimberling killed both enemy fighters, causing the enemy attack to falter and allowing the Afghan national police and the Afghan national army to maneuver around and eliminate the remaining enemy. The cumulative effect of Sergeant Kimberling's actions prevented the entire coalition convoy from being dangerously split by the enemy fighters.

"And if all of that wasn't enough, during the attack, Sergeant Kimberling had the situational awareness to call in close-air support from nearby Dutch NATO aircraft that were patrolling the area," said Col. Thomas Laffey, the 366th Mission Support Group commander. "He achieved this while under very heavy fire for more than two hours."

"Simply stated, Sergeant Kimberling is an Air Force combat hero," Colonel Laffey said.

The air support directly prevented the coalition's fallback position from being overrun by the Taliban forces. Overall, his actions were instrumental in eliminating an estimated 20 anti-coalition militants, saving the lives of more than two dozen Afghan soldiers and police, and resulting in zero casualties to coalition forces.

"They're calling me a hero," Sergeant Kimberling said. "I don't think I did anything special. I went out there to do my job."

"Sergeant Kimberling is a modest man. He says he's not a hero, but he is," said Master Sgt. John Jackson, the 366th Security Forces Squadron's superintendent of logistics and Sergeant Kimberling's supervisor.

The Bronze Star is awarded to servicemembers for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service and may be awarded with valor for courage under fire.

The Army Commendation Medal is awarded to servicemembers who distinguish themselves by sustained acts of heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service.