A Kentucky Air National Guardsman on Thursday received the military's second highest award for valor, the Air Force Cross, for actions in the War in Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. Keary Miller was the Air Force combat search and rescue team leader assigned to recover two American servicemen evading capture in Battle of Takur Ghar, one of the deadliest battles in the early days of the war, according to the Kentucky Air National Guard.
Miller was traveling to the fight in a helicopter that was shot down by opposing forces. Upon crashing, Miller and the rest of the servicemen aboard the aircraft were immediately ambushed by Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, instantly suffering three fatalities and five life-threatening casualties.
"Despite effective enemy fire, and at great risk to his own life, Sergeant Miller moved throughout the battlefield, crossing open danger areas on numerous occasions, in order to assess and care for critically wounded servicemen," Master Sgt. Miller's award citation read.
According to the Airforce, Miller delivered medical treatment to 10 gravely wounded servicemen and recovered the bodies of seven servicemen killed in action.
"Sergeant Miller's heroic and selfless actions during the Battle of Takur Ghar represent the very finest qualities of the Airmen of the Kentucky Air National Guard," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan, adjutant general of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in a written statement. "He repeatedly risked his own life under enemy fire to render life-saving assistance to multiple wounded U.S. service members while distributing ammunition to Army Rangers defending their position. It is entirely appropriate that Sergeant Miller is now being recognized with the Air Force's highest combat decoration.”
The Battle of Takur Ghar was a joint American and Australian mission in southeastern Afghanistan in 2002. For the Americans, it was the costliest battle in Operation Anaconda, the first large-scale battle in the war aimed at encircling and destroying remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces retreating into the mountains after coalition forces invaded Afghanistan. The battle became one of the most famous engagements in contemporary Air Force history.
Coalition forces fought against an estimated 1,000 Al-Qaeda forces. The mission is considered a success Seven U.S. servicemen were killed, one of which was potentially captured and executed by Al-Qaeda fighters.
Master Sgt. Miller's age was not detailed. Military regulations forbid disclosure of a servicemember's age.
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