UNSUNG HEROES: This Combat Controller Has Become One of the Most Decorated Airmen Ever

Unsung Heroes
Photo by Abner Guzman

Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell puts the “close” in close-air support. Harvell is an Air Force combat controller and member of the the Air Force special operations community.


While deployed with the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Harvell was embedded with a Army Special Forces element conducting operations in Helmand province. On two separate missions in May 2007 near Kajaki, Afghanistan, Harvell directed close-air support at great personal risk, according to military citations and media reports.

On May 8, during a reconnaissance patrol, Harvell’s team was ambushed in their nine-vehicle convoy. In the course of the ten-hour engagement, Harvell directed numerous airstrikes, including strafing runs a scant 45 feet from his position.

In a separate ambush on May 30, during an operation to recover a downed CH-47 Chinook aircrew, Harvell was wounded and knocked unconscious by RPG fire. Upon waking up, a still bleeding Harvell simultaneously engaged multiple Taliban militants with his personal weapons and called in danger-close ordnance from the air.

Harvell’s actions on both days in May eliminated a total of 212 enemy fighters, and saved the lives of his fellow special operators. As a result, Harvell was awarded the Silver Star.

But it wouldn’t be his last.

Barely two months after the firefights that resulted in his first award, Harvell again demonstrated his skill and excellence as a combat controller. On July 25, again operating with a Army Special Forces element in Helmand, this time near Nowzad, Harvell and the team he was supporting breached a compound in order to flank an enemy ambush.

Harvell engaged multiple Taliban fighters without regard for his personal safety. When enemy reinforcements arrived, Harvell stopped in the middle of a 200-yard dash across an open wadi to cover the rest of the team’s withdrawal.

Once he was safely across, he then called in fire from A-10 Warthog and AC-130 Spectre aircraft, which eliminated over 50 enemy combatants and ended the engagement.

According to Air Force Times, with these actions earning him a second Silver Star, Harvell is one of only seven service members, and three airmen, to receive two Silver Stars since 9/11.

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less