Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz awarded Capt. Barry Crawford the Air Force Cross—the second highest honor for valor in combat—during a Pentagon ceremony Thursday. “It’s not hard to be utterly impressed by his bravery and inspired by his selflessness,” said Schwartz of Crawford during the ceremony, which recognized Crawford’s extraordinary heroism in Afghanistan on May 4, 2010. Crawford was a special tactics officer assigned to an Army special operations unit and its Afghan partners. The commandos were operating that day in a completely denied area east of Kabul known to be sympathetic to the Taliban. Almost immediately after entering a village, the commando force came under fire from more than 100 highly trained insurgents hiding out in the mountains above. During the more than 10-hour battle, Crawford repeatedly put his life on the line to save his US and Afghan comrades. Two Afghans died and three others were severely wounded, but “given the skill and aggressiveness of this enemy,” the casualties easily could have been higher, noted Schwartz in praising Crawford. Crawford said he was “deeply honored” and “extremely humbled” not only by the “magnitude of the award,” but also by the overwhelming support he’s received. He specifically acknowledged the handful of Army special forces soldiers who served with him that day who attended the ceremony. “This award is an individual award, but I consider it much more than that. It’s our award,” said Crawford. “Everyone was valiant. Everyone was heroic. Thank you so much for being my true friends, my brothers.” Crawford also received a Purple Heart during the ceremony. For the full account of Crawford’s heroics, read Caught in the Crossfire.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.