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Bronze Star recipient Capt. Collin Christopherson
Capt. Collin C. Christopherson, received a Bronze Star Medal from Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., Commander, Air Education and Training Command, Feb. 27, 2013, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Collin led five soldiers and airmen to defensive positions to protect six unarmed civilians and contractors. He led them through 86 indirect fire attacks and one direct attack in which insurgents used a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joel Martinez)
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Bronze Star recipient: No matter the job, it is important

Posted 3/1/2013   Updated 3/1/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

3/1/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Bronze Star, Army Combat Action Badge, contracting officer; three things the average service member probably hasn't seen in the same sentence, but those three things are true about a particular member of Air Education and Training Command.

A conference room filled with family, friends and co-workers honored the achievements of Capt. Collin Christopherson, who humbly accepted the awards presented by AETC Commander Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., Feb. 27.

"I've had the honor of officiating a number of ceremonies in this room and I don't think we've ever had a larger crowd so I think it's really indicative of the work he's done and what he's meant to all of us here," said Rice, during the ceremony.

After the Bronze Star and Army Combat Action Badge were presented the crowd erupted with applause, which was followed by an emotional acceptance speech.

"Each one of you played an important part in my preparation," said Christopherson, to the crowd. "If it was warrior ethos, if it was how to effectively negotiate with a contractor, if it was me being able to call you, Colonel Bailey, at 1 a.m. Afghan time ... a lot of people in this room had a lot to do with everything I was able to do."

For six months, Christopherson managed $133 million dollars and 11 contracting professionals who provided construction and services support for the 173D Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Forward Operating Base Shank in a mountainous region of Southeast Afghanistan. Christopherson was deputy chief for Regional Contracting Center Shank, Central Command Joint Theater Support Contracting Command.

During his stay, the base was attacked many times by indirect mortar fire, and rocket fire and even a vehicle-borne IED that breached the FOB perimeter.

"In fighting season, there were days when we wore our gear all day long and couldn't get off the ground or out of the ditch or out of the bunker back to the office to even start working before the sky would start falling in on us again and we'd just catch rockets," he said.

Christopherson experienced many harrowing moments during his deployment, but rather than coming back defeated he came back reinvigorated. He was on the frontlines on the combat operations in Afghanistan and saw firsthand the immediate impact his team's contracting support had on the war-fighting efforts.

Oftentimes, contracting appears to be further back on the chain, but that's just not true, he said.

"I left more charged up about the Air Force and about Air Force Contracting after living in tents and using (portable toilets) with the Army for six months and allowing them to take the fight to the bad guys," said Christopherson.

Also during the deployment, he witnessed how the Air Force delivers Airpower and came away with a better understanding Air Force support functions play a vital role in carrying operational missions.

"The Air Force has a place in the fight and each one of you has a place in putting that Air Force there," said Christopherson. "Don't underestimate what you do.

"Understand that you are in a direct line that can be followed to that E-4 that's taking the fight to them, because that is really happening and you are involved in that," he said.

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