ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS - 8/29/2012) -- In August of
2011, exactly two days after celebrating his birthday, Master Sgt.
Gene Jameson, III, found his combat communications training put to
use inside a compound at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. Gene Jameson, III, stands proudly in front of the U.S. flag at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Aug. 23, 2012. Jameson was awarded the Bronze Star medal for his actions while deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan. He battled a fire started by an insurgent's 107-millimeter rocket. U.S. Air Force photo
by Robert Talenti
One year later, he was recognized for his heroism with a Bronze
Star Medal with Valor during a ceremony at Robins Air Force Base,
Ga., Aug. 23.
At the time, insurgents in the area had
launched a rocket attack onto the base, with one hitting a building
inside a United Arab Emirates special operations compound igniting a
fire which quickly spread to nearby buildings.
spreading pretty fast," recalled Jameson, 689th Combat
Communications Wing wing policy manager. "It started out with one
building, and ended up burning five and-a-half acres -- roughly 80
to 90 buildings."
Once on site, at about 10:30 p.m. on Aug.
20, he began directing heavy equipment operators on where to knock
down buildings and established a fire break area so they could stop
Explosives, 80,000-gallon fuel tanks and a diesel
generator inside the compound threatened to add to the fire
if they succumbed to the flames. Hours into helping fight
the fire, Jameson continued to enter and exit the compound
to remove materials before they were destroyed.
fourth time I found two crates of explosives -- one was
filled with shoulder-launch anti-tank missiles, and the
other crate held grenades," he said. "When we went to
relocate them, the last building we were trying to demolish,
instead of it falling the way we thought it was going to, it
fell slightly to the left."
Then things started to
move quickly. "It completely blocked our own entrance and
exit out of the compound," he continued. "It left me and one
of my staff sergeants trapped."
The chaotic scene
included random explosions of munitions, as well as flames
well up to 60 feet high.
The senior non-commissioned
officer assessed the situation, and found a way out through
an area 150 yards long and about a yard-and-a-half wide of
room with flames on either side. He and a fellow Airman
carried the two crates, holding 250 pounds of high
explosives, through the path and out safely to the other
Exhausted, and having already churned out a
16-hour workday, he came out alive -- but his boots were
melted, the hair on his arms was burnt off and his uniform
was charred. He also had trouble breathing.
Jameson's heroic actions prevented mass detonations and
helped save more than 50 lives, as well as facilities and
He spent more than six hours on the
scene, and was finally able to rest during the early morning
hours of the following day.
Reflecting on the
situation one year later, he described the award as a huge
"I've spent 18-and-a-half years in the Air
Force, and have received a lot of good training which I was
able to put to use. It's pretty humbling," he said. "You
never know whether or not you've met all the criteria in
your own mind, but someone thought I did. So I am honored to
Jameson pointed out much of what he's
learned during his training with the 689th CCW at Robins
AFB, whether during exercises involving explosives going off
or people shooting at him, taught him to prioritize
situations in the midst of the unexpected.
teaches you how to keep calm while there is chaos around
you," he said. "And with all the chaos that was going on;
with fire advancing, smoke, explosions; that training kicks
in and you know your to-do list. You say 'these are my
priorities and I have to get these things done to get myself
out of here.'"
Jameson served in Afghanistan from
March to November 2011, as operations flight chief with the
455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, 455th
Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 455th Air Expeditionary
Col. Joseph Scherrer, 689th CCW commander,
described Jameson as quiet, hardworking, thorough,
professional and a man who is a leader.
say it's because of uncommon valor that we are here today"
said Scherrer. "He is exactly the type of senior NCO that we
strive for in the Air Force. He represented us in the finest
tradition of combat communications. Sergeant Jameson didn't
predict that he'd be a firefighter while on deployment, but
it turned out he was the best one they had."
Jameson's citation read, "His crisis leadership during the
five-hour ordeal prevented inevitable mass detonations and
saved the lives of 50 personnel battling the raging inferno.
By his heroic actions and unselfish dedication to duty,
Sergeant Jameson has reflected great credit upon himself and
the United States Air Force."
The Bronze Star Medal
with Valor is the fourth highest combat award in the armed
By Jenny Gordon, 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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