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Heroes and Patriots
By Trisha Gallaway

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Charleston Airman Honored For Heroic Actions
(October 23, 2009)

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Tech. Sgt. Michael Williams is awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor by Col. John Wood Oct. 15, 2009 at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. The Bronze Star is awarded to servicemembers for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service and may be awarded with valor for courage under fire. Sergeant Williams is an explosive ordnance technician with the 437th Civil Engineer Squadron and Colonel Wood is the 437th Airlift Wing commander.
 CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (10/19/2009 - AFNS) -- A Charleston Air Force Base technical sergeant was honored Oct. 15 for his heroism and bravery while suffering from injuries sustained during a patrol on his seventh deployment to the Middle East.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Williams, an explosives ordnance disposal technician with the 437th Civil Engineer Squadron, was on patrol Aug. 2 near the Mushan Village in Afghanistan after one of the locals said they knew where an improvised explosive device was located.

With one step, his foot landed on a different land mine with an IED on it.

"(Following the detonation of the IED) the insurgents started firing on us at the location," he said. "My teammates did an outstanding job defending the area, taking care of me and getting out of there. I was very grateful."
After losing the lower portion of his left leg from the explosion, (Sergeant Williams) courageously conducted post-blast crater analysis while engaged by insurgent small-arms fire. He passed vital details regarding the composition and size of the detonated IED to members of his patrol and assisted in his own medical treatment while awaiting evacuation.

During the evacuation, Sergeant Williams continued to pass information concerning the explosive device to his fellow team members while heroically manning his weapon in order to provide security as they moved to the helicopter landing zone.

"Everyone reacts differently to an injury," Sergeant Williams said. "I just went back to the training I received and tried to do as best I could to make sure everyone got out of there. The job still has to get done. You can't just stop, so I tried to do as much as I could and the best I could do it (given the situation)."

As for his recovery, Sergeant Williams has been fitted with a prosthetic leg and is able to walk; however, he still has a year of rehab left to get him to where he wants to be.

"Some days are better than others," he said. "I want to get back to normal as soon as possible."

He said also realizes how lucky he is to be alive today.

"I'm just very happy to be back with my family. I've seen other people who aren't able to come back," he said. "I was happy (after) I got hurt because I realized I was still alive. Once everything settled, I realized yes, I lost a leg and have some other injuries, but I'm still alive, and I was able to come home to my wife and son. So when I see them, it makes me thankful every time."

Col. John Wood, the 437th Airlift Wing commander, presented Sergeant Williams with the Bronze Star with valor, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal and the Air Force Combat Action Medal during a ceremony held at the Charleston AFB theater in front of a standing-room-only audience.

The colonel then asked all servicemembers in attendance to think about how they might react in the same situation.

"Think about your role, in that moment which happened to Sergeant Williams," he said. "Think about how you would react, he's one Airman. That could have been many of you in this room. He was trained, he was capable, smart and fate shined on us. God has blessed him and his family to be here. So today, is a moment where we can honor him with our military tradition and we award him his medals. But today is also a day we celebrate that he, this Airman, is back with us."

By Trisha Gallaway
437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katie Gieratz
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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