HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (March 22, 2013) - A Bronze Star with Valor was presented to an explosive ordnance disposal technician here today.
Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Brickey, United States Air Force Special Operations School Force Protection Branch noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said receiving this particular Bronze Star was humbling for him.
Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Brickey, United States Air Force Special Operations School force protection branch noncommissioned officer-in-charge, poses for a photo with his family and Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, Air Force Special Operations Command commander after receiving a Bronze Star with Valor, March 22, 2013 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. This is the fifth Bronze Star Brickey has received during his 13-year Air Force career in Explosive Ordnance Disposal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melanie Holochwost)
The Oregon native said, “I feel honored to be this decorated,” as he became the fifth airman to receive five Bronze Stars in Air Force history.
Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander, presented Brickey this medal for his bravery during a mission in Afghanistan, June 1, 2011.
“Ronnie, your unmatched skills, courage, and selflessness epitomize what being a warrior is all about,” Fiel said during his speech at the medal presentation. “You're an extraordinary example to us all.”
Brickey said it all started while performing an improvised explosive device post-blast analysis. He identified three additional IEDs and knew he had to render them safe.
Although this alone can be a normal day's work in the EOD business, things went downhill fast for this air commando.
Brickey said he was able to eliminate the first two threats pretty quickly; however, after he started working on the third IED, his unit came under direct fire from multiple positions.
Brickey protected his team of 20 U.S. soldiers, four Canadian soldiers, and two Afghan National Security Forces members throughout the 40-minute firefight by posting himself next to the IED to prevent accidental detonation. During this time, he repeatedly exposed himself to direct fire, returned fire on the enemy, and directed his team past the IED.
Finally, Brickey attached a render safe tool to the IED and instructed his team to disable it remotely. He also used his body to shield two soldiers from the potential blast.
Because of Brickey's efforts, his team was able to maneuver on the enemy without unintentionally detonating an IED. The joint force went on to lay lethal fire, which forced insurgents to retreat.
To date, Brickey has been on 500 combat missions and rendered 200 IEDs safe.
“I love being an EOD technician,” he said. “I often felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I would walk down a dirt path in Afghanistan and identify a buried IED.
“Knowing that a life is saved every time I remove an IED from the battlefield is one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
By USAF Sr. Airman Melanie (Iannaggi) Holochwost
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