Air Commando to Receive Air Force Cross

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley has approved the Air Force Cross for SSgt. Robert Gutierrez’s “extraordinary valor in the face of a determined enemy” in Afghanistan in 2009, announced Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday. On Oct. 5, 2009, Gutierrez and the Army Special Forces team he was attached to set out on a risky nighttime raid to capture, detain, or kill a “high-value target” coalition forces had been chasing for the previous six years. As the battled raged on for more than four hours, Gutierrez accurately guided close-air support at a “danger-close” range helping to “decimate the enemy and allow his team to escape the kill zone without additional casualties,” said Schwartz. Gutierrez was shot by a Taliban insurgent on a neighboring rooftop during the battle, an eardrum burst as A-10s strafed the enemy, and he lost five and half pints of blood, still he continued to direct the aircraft overhead, called in his own medevac, and walked himself to the landing zone. “I am beyond honored and humbled to receive this award. It puts me in a category with some of the greatest men on the planet, so I’m humbled,” said Gutierrez. Now eager to get back to the fight, Gutierrez said he learned that “you can do anything.” He added, “I was surprised what the human body and the mind will do to survive. What drives that is all based on the person.” For him, it was the men he was fighting with, his family, and his patriotic duty. To read the complete story of the battle, click here.