Three heroes recognized
Three Alaska Air National Guardsmen received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for their actions in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. Tech. Sgt. Shane J. Hargis, Staff Sgt. Theodore M. Sierocinski and Cpt. Koaalii C. “Koa” Bailey were honored during an award ceremony Oct. 13 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Here’s a look at each man:
Cpt. Koaalii Bailey
Cpt. Bailey served as a combat rescue officer with the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
On Nov 14, 2010, Bailey was part of an insertion team that aided a platoon engaged in ground combat near Watapur Valley, according to a press release. Taking small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades, Bailey and his team rescued five wounded soldiers.
Bailey assisted his team leader in establishing a casualty collection point shielded from enemy fire. Bailey escorted soldiers into the covered position while under fire.
Bailey also coordinated with 12 air platforms to help the ground force destroy the enemy.
“His actions single handedly prevented further casualties and allowed the ground force to repel the overwhelming enemy onslaught,” the release said.
Staff Sgt. Theodore Sierocinski
Staff Sgt. Sierocinski served as a pararescue team member of the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
Over a two-day period Nov. 13-14, 2010, Sierocinski conducted eight missions in the Pech River Valley that resulted in 19 saved lives and the return of six soldiers killed in action, the release said.
On Nov. 13, Sierocinski voluntarily flew into a heavily guarded area to evacuate five critically injured soldiers while under small arms fire.
“Throughout the engagement, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he ensured all the casualties were safely hoisted into the helicopter,” the National Guard said.
After securing every wounded soldier, Sierocinski was the last hoisted in the helicopter.
“His actions directly enabled the success of an operation that secured large stores of enemy weapons and munitions in addition to significantly disrupting insurgent activity against coalition forces,” the release said.
Tech. Sgt. Shane Hargis
Tech. Sgt. Hargis, a pararescue team member, helped save two lives after a helicopter crashed in the insurgent-controlled Tagab Valley on April 23, 2011.
After securing the first survivor, Hargis came under heavy fire, according to the release. During an attempted extrication, the aircraft, too, came under fire and had to leave Hargis and the survivor stranded.
Hargis took cover with the survivor and called for a helicopter. Still under fire, Hargis loaded the survivor into the helicopter, which sustained damaged due to gunfire.
“On board, Sgt. Hargis shielded the survivor with his body while engaging enemy positions with his personal weapon,” the release said.
After landing safely, Hargis boarded another helicopter to continue the rescue effort.
“Sgt. Hargis risked his life multiple times that day, ultimately resulting in the life saving of two soldiers and the recovery of another from the battlefield,” the release said.