Technical Sergeant Ismael Villegas was completely open to enemy fire, but it didn’t make a difference, to him, there was only one objective in mind.It was early 2011, and the mission was only supposed to last a week.
Yet, during the early portion of what turned out to be an 18-day battle with the Taliban, Villegas found himself and his friends pinned down under heavy enemy fire.
Villegas is an Air Force combat controller, a rarely heralded sect of military special operations which often ends up behind enemy lines in small teams, directing aircraft above the fight.
This particular subset of Special Ops is responsible for inflicting some of the worst damage to America’s enemies in its most recent wars, according to SOFREP.
Villegas, braving withering enemy fire, directed the unloading of an astounding 14,000 pounds of ordnance on the enemy, killing 20 Taliban, and saving the lives of his teammates.
“It was pretty much trench warfare,” Villegas said to Air Force Times. “There were a lot of RPGs, a lot of mortars. We continued to fight through the assault though.”
“The area hadn’t had any U.S. or coalition presence in a few years, so we encountered a lot of resistance. We had to establish a presence, and we ended up stirring a hornets nest, so to speak.”
During another engagement in the mission, Villegas and his crew — an elite group of Army Special Forces — came under heavy small arms fire. One of the green berets was hit, and, while returning fire, Villegas exposed himself in order to drag the injured soldier to safety.
For his actions, he recently received his second Silver Star, the third highest award exclusively for valor in combat.
He’s also just the second airman in history to have the distinction of earning two of the three highest awards for valor.
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