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

Unsung Heroes
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz pins the Silver Star on Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell during a medal ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., April 29.
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.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".

In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"

Read More Show Less

It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.

But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.

Read More Show Less

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.

A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.

Read More Show Less

There's a joke that Joey Jones likes to use when he feels the need to ease the tension in a room or in his own head.

To calm himself down, he uses it to remind himself of the obstacles he's had to overcome. When he faces challenges today — big or small — it brings him back to a time when the stakes were higher.

Jones will feel out a room before using the line. For nearly a decade, Jones, 33, has told his story to thousands of people, given motivational speeches to NFL teams and acted alongside a three-time Academy Award-winning actor.

On Tuesday afternoon, he stood at the front of a classroom at his alma mater, Southeast Whitfield High School in Georgia. The room was crowded with about 30 honor students.

It took about 20 minutes, but Jones started to get more comfortable as the room warmed up to him. A student asked about how he deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I believe in post-traumatic growth," Jones said. "That means you go through tough and difficult situations and on the back end through recovery, you learn strength."

Read More Show Less

It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.

It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.

"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.

Read More Show Less