JTAC Awarded Silver Star

Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented the Silver Star to TSgt. Ismael Villegas for his gallant actions in Afghanistan in 2009. In September of that year, Villegas was the lone joint terminal attack controller assigned to an Army special forces team charged with clearing a road of improvised explosive devices near Bagh Khosak. After insurgents ambushed the team, Villegas, who was assigned at the time to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Field, N.C., ran 200 feet across an open mine field so that he could return fire and call in air support from the optimal position. He directed “precision firepower from artillery, as well as fixed- and rotary-wing assets,” that resulted in 32 insurgents killed during the 16-hour firefight and saving the lives of his teammates, according to Air Force Special Operations Command officials. Villegas said his Silver Star, received on Oct. 27, “is for my guys. They put their lives on the line each day. I’m taking this on behalf of all of those guys out there.” (Hurlburt report by Rachel Arroyo)