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Altus Airman earns Bronze Star with Valor in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgts. Matthew Treadwell and Randy Sampson, both combat arms advisors for NATO Air Training Command  – Afghanistan, shake hands after being presented the Bronze Star with Valor. Treadwell is stationed at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and Sampson is stationed at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgts. Matthew Treadwell and Randy Sampson, both combat arms advisors for NATO Air Training Command – Afghanistan, shake hands after being presented the Bronze Star with Valor. Treadwell is stationed at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and Sampson is stationed at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (Courtesy Photo)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- An Airman assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor during a ceremony in Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2014.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Treadwell, a combat arms advisor for NATO Air Training Command - Afghanistan, was recognized for successfully defending his forward operating base during an insurgent attack in Kabul, July 17, 2014. He is a security forces member currently deployed with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing at Forward Operating Base Oqab, Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan.

In the pre-dawn hours of July 17, a group of anti-Afghanistan forces gained access to a multi-story building under construction approximately 350 meters from the base and airport fence line.

Fighting from the rooftop and windows on several stories, the attackers began firing rocket propelled grenades and shooting automatic weapons at the Afghan air force base adjoining the airport, and the U.S. compound inside the base.

Treadwell was asleep in his living quarters when he was awakened by explosions and gunfire just after 4 a.m. He confirmed the situation was an attack by contacting the operations center and with information from other security forces in the guard towers. He ran outside with his protective gear to see where he could help. A fellow security forces member, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rafael Melendez, got into a mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, added Treadwell and four other members to the vehicle and headed out as part of a two-vehicle quick reaction force to neutralize the enemy. When they arrived between two nearby buildings, Treadwell decided to go for a closer position.

"I asked the quick reaction force leader, Sergeant Melendez, to go into the building for a close engagement," said Treadwell.

Treadwell and Tech. Sgt. Randy Sampson entered a nearby building and made their way to a position about 100 meters from the building the attackers' position. "I got off six or seven shots from the hallway, then went into a room to the right, but had no shot. Then we went to the left and found two offices with a good position," said Treadwell. "We moved around in there, firing. I fired about 90 rounds, and we talked to Melendez, calling out the enemy position to direct machine gun fire. During this time, the Afghans started firing at the attackers from a position behind ours."

The enemy fired more than 20 rocket propelled grenades at coalition forces and assets during the attack, detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and donned suicide vests.

Due to the suppressive fire provided by Treadwell and his fellow Airmen, the attacks were not particularly efficient. There was minor damage to facilities and property, but friendly forces received no significant injuries and no casualties during the battle.

The attack ultimately ended when an Afghan-led quick reaction force, enabled by the suppressive fire from Treadwell and other Air Force defenders, arrived at the enemy position and eliminated the remaining attackers in the building. Based on preliminary analysis, at least four insurgents were killed.

Treadwell has seen action before in a previous deployment, but said this experience was different.

"The first time, I couldn't fire back due to my position," he said. "This time, I could. It feels different, and it feels like we were more accomplished. Our Airmen - most of them on their first deployment and having their first experience shooting and getting shot at - performed phenomenally. I couldn't ask for a better group."

Treadwell is deployed from his home station of Altus Air Force Base, where he is the NCO in charge of combat arms for the 97th Security Forces Squadron. He is from Snyder, Okla. and the son of Greg and Sheila Treadwell.
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