Bronze Star
Special Agent Wilbur Barras was presented the Bronze Star by Col. Dennis Gervais, Air Force Office of Special Investagations, Region 4 commander, Nov. 20 at Luke Air Force Base. (courtesy photo)
Luke OSI agent awarded Bronze Star

by Deborah Silliman Wolfe
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs staff writer

12/5/2008 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- Special Agent Wilbur Barras, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 421, was presented the Bronze Star by Col. Dennis Gervais, AFOSI Region 4 commander, Nov. 20 at Luke Air Force Base.

He received the award in recognition of his outstanding achievements as officer-in-charge at the Regional Command East counterintelligence team, International Security Assistance Force at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from May through December 2007.

"I'm grateful and honored to be part of such a unique group of people," Agent Barras said. "I couldn't have done this without my team. I have the paper that congratulates me, but it's a whole team doing the job together."

Agent Barras has been an OSI agent since March 2005, after he crossed-trained from security forces because he was "captivated by the challenge of what OSI does."

While serving at Bagram, Agent Barras stood up to the OSI challenge, and led a joint Army and Air Force team of 17 agents assigned to three geographically-separated locations supporting 62 forward operating bases, said the award citation. Agent Barras's actions resulted in the publication of more than 350 intelligence reports and the opening of 22 counterintelligence investigations.

Additionally, he developed an informant network which identified 150 insurgents and provided tactical and strategic intelligence to enable the capture and neutralization of 45 terrorists.

Special Agents Brandon Cole and Donna Pelligrini, AFOSI Detachment 421, were also awarded Air Force Commendation Medals at the ceremony; Agent Cole for outstanding achievement while assigned to Ali Air Base, Iraq; and Agent Pelligrini for meritorious service while assigned to Luke AFB.

"The OSI story doesn't get out very often," said Colonel Gervais when introducing the awardees. "It is a story of courage, and service in the shadows. Service to something bigger than self. All of these awardees exemplify that. Their service entails sacrifice and loss.

"We in OSI have lost seven agents in combat over the last few years, and 24 agents were seriously wounded," he said. "I tell you that to drive home the point of how special these Americans are who serve with OSI. Many in our country are good at talking about the defense of freedom, but few are willing to step up and actually put themselves at risk to defend it. The folks you see do exactly that, quietly, humbly and in service of freedom."