US Air Force

Air Force Technical Sgt. Cam Kelsch may need to get new uniform trousers in order to fit his enormous brass balls, since he's about to be awarded both the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medal (with combat "V") for his heroism during two separate engagements in Afghanistan.

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A hazing scandal in the Air Force's elite tactical air control party community led to the removal of two squadron commanders recently, said Col. Benjamin Bishop, commander of the 354th Fighter Wing.

The Air Force has roughly 1,100 TACPs, who fight alongside conventional and special operations forces. They can call in airstrikes but they are also highly trained for ground combat.

"The tactical air control party is a weapons system in my command," Bishop told Task & Purpose. "It is an elite team that has tremendous capability and tremendous potential to employ on the battlefield. I am very protective of that weapon system and I am very passionate making sure that it's able to be as lethal as possible when the time comes. A hazing culture that could arise is a threat to mission effectiveness."

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Air Force photo by Dave Davenport

On April 4, 2003, less than three weeks after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began, Tech. Sgt. Travis Crosby, a tactical air control party specialist (TACP) attached to the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division found himself at the tip of the spear into Baghdad.

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