Air Force PJ receives Bronze Star for fighting off Taliban for hours while twice wounded

Unsung Heroes

VIDEO: Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Metzger receives Bronze Star with Valor

Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Metzger was awarded the Bronze Star with a valor device for his heroism during an hours-long firefight with Taliban militants that saw him overcome significant injuries from both grenade shrapnel and gunfire to save the lives of his teammates.

Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes presented Metzger, assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, with his Bronze Star on Monday.


While assigned to the 83d Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing out of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, Metzger was part of an April 29, 2018 helicopter assault intended to destroy a Taliban weapons facility and disrupt the terror group's networks in the region.

During a patrol, Metzger's unit came under attack from "intense" machine gun and small arms fire from Taliban fighters positioned on a nearby ridge, according to his citation. Outflanked, the he immediately returned fire despite enemy fighters maneuvering "within five meters" of his position.

Despite his exposure to "continuous enemy fire," Metzger maneuvered to aid two Afghan partners who were severely injured by a Taliban grenade, according to an ACC release: "Disregarding the risk to himself, he carried the two partners away from enemy fire."

U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, left, commander of Air Combat Command, presents a Bronze Star Medal with Valor citation to Staff Sgt. Aaron Metzger, right, 38th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, Aug. 26, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Taryn Butler)

While treating partner forces, Metzger was injured by grenade shrapnel to hisi his right arm and chest, but "remained calm in order to guide a fellow teammate to perform life-saving treatment on himself," according to his citation

Even after he was again wounded, this time by small arms fire, Metzger "refused to be carried to the medical evacuation helicopter so personnel could focus on security," according to the release.

"The heroic action and unselfish dedication to duty displayed by Sgt. Metzger reflect great credit upon himself and the Air Force," the citation says.

During the Monday ceremony, Metzger was surrounded not just by family, his fellow airmen from the 38th RQS, and 23rd Wing leadership, and ACC chief Holmes thanked Metzger's teammates for helping him return to duty following his injuries.

"I'm proud of the team that took part in helping Sgt. Metzger return to status because that's a tough voyage," Holmes said. "I'm proud of the people [who] accomplished this mission [and] all the aspects that go into it that make it happen."

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

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