Four medals were presented to three Airmen for their actions while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during a ceremony April 20 at the Hickam Memorial Theater. The Bronze Star Medal was presented to Lt. Col. Jason J. Bock, commander, 647th Contracting Squadron (CONS), and Master Sgt. Matthew G. Kredell, 647th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), explosive ordnance disposal craftsman. The Purple Heart and Air Force Combat Action Medal were awarded to Staff Sgt. Darryl J. Dutton, also of the 647th Civil Engineer Squadron.
Dutton and his team were en route to clear an improvised explosive device (IED), along with an Army infantry unit, who was their security, to an area to meet with the unit that discovered the IED. While at the location, an Army infantryman stepped on a pressure plate that detonated an unknown IED.
Dutton was thrown in the air and was unconscious for an unknown period of time. The blast injured seven personnel including Dutton, whose left leg and arm were degloved and required eight surgeries, and who suffered a ruptured eardrum. “Fortunately, throughout this whole ordeal, I was able to come home to my wife and two children,” said Dutton.
During a routine quick response force (QRF), Dutton’s team had to walk approximately one kilometer to dispose of an IED where an Army unit was located.
While at the location, they received enemy fire from about 500 meters away.
“The first bullets I heard buzzed right over my head, and then I witnessed two or three shots in front of my teammates, approximately two to three meters away,” said Dutton. They were in an open field with little cover but managed to dispose of the IED while the Army engaged the enemy.
Kredell was with the 466th EOD, Operating Location Delta and demonstrated exceptional meritorious service as a team leader while deployed. He contributed to more than 100 route clearance missions which cleared 18,000 miles of critical supply routes and disposed of 8,500 pounds of IEDs. During a convoy, a vehicle struck an IED, and Kredell quickly dismounted and cleared a path for medical personnel and aided in crew extraction. His quick actions also minimized injuries when two other vehicles struck IEDs and the convoy came under enemy fire.
Bock demonstrated exceptional leadership and meritorious service as chief of contracting, Regional Contracting Command, Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan, while engaged in ground operations against the enemy. While there, he provided strategic guidance to two task force commanders, managed 163 construction projects, improved the force protection and quality of life for U.S., Polish and Afghanistan National Army Forces, led the way in counter insurgency efforts by connecting the community with four new roads, refurbished and staffed an engineering skills center, and trained local vendors in the procurement process.
“It definitely was a great honor to support the Army,” said Bock. “It was a great group of joint personnel that I had the privilege of being in charge of.”
Col. Dann Carlson, commander, 647th Air Base Group, and deputy commander, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, was the presiding officer for the medal presentations. “I’m truly humbled to present these awards,” said Carlson. “This is a great example of what we bring to the fight and a reason to be proud to be in the air base group. I’m honored to be a part of this.”
“It’s not every day we have a chance to recognize our combat warriors,” said Tech. Sgt. Philip Andrews, an EOD craftsman with the 647th CES.
“It’s always humbling to receive an award,” said Kredell. “It’s bittersweet. We lost 20 EOD brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan. I wear this for them.”
“It’s an honor to receive the Purple Heart,” said Dutton. “It’s an award you don’t want to receive, but glad the Air Force recognizes for the injuries.”
Dutton is a native of Milton, Vt., Kredell is a native of Arlington, Texas, and Bock is a native of Brooklyn Park, Minn.