Facing Hell, Calling For Fire Heroics Earns Air Force Cross
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Maxwell Daigle
December 16, 2020
Snapped awake by the sound of belt-fed machine gun fire,
then-Senior Airman Alaxey Germanovich, a combat controller assigned
to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, surveys the compound he had
dozed off in after several sleepless days of combat.
around and I don’t see any of my American teammates,” said
Germanovich. “(At that moment I said to myself) I need to find my
friends right now.”
Grabbing his helmet and rifle,
Germanovich bolted out of the compound and into the fight, where he
saw several of the U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers he was embedded
with huddling for cover from behind a small rock.
then that I had to go get to my teammates and help them,” he said.
Germanovich’s base instinct would quickly turn into a grueling
battle for survival, but it was those selfless impulses to save and
protect his teammates that proved to be the difference between life
and death for many of his teammates on that fateful day.
SecAF Commends Combat Controller For Valor
The 25th Secretary
of the Air Force, Barbara M. Barrett, presented the Air Force Cross
to now-Staff Sgt. Germanovich during a ceremony here, Dec. 10, 2020.
December 10, 2020 - The father of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, pins the Air Force Cross medal on his son during a medal ceremony at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan on April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)
Germanovich was awarded the medal, second only to the Medal of
Honor, for his actions on April 8, 2017, during combat operations
against enemy forces in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
“This Air Force Cross is a tribute to your persistence (Staff Sgt.
Germanovich),” said Barrett. “You risked your life and weathered
blistering enemy fire to save the lives of others.”
attendance were Col. Matthew Allen, 24th Special Operations Wing
commander, the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) team Germanovich
was attached to during the combat operations, and Germanovich’s
family and friends.
Following the ceremony, Germanovich led
those in attendance in memorial pushups to commemorate the event,
the firefight and the ultimate sacrifice paid during the clash by
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, a Special Forces Soldier
assigned to 7th SFG (A) and a member of the team Germanovich was
“This battle was a case study in toughness and
extraordinary competence,” said Allen. “But it was also a case study
in love. The type of love that demands teammates fight for one
another and give everything they have.”
as the air-to-ground liaison for his special operations forces team
were credited with protecting the lives of over 150 friendly forces
and the lethal engagement of 11 separate fighting positions.
Facing Hell, Calling For Fire
A native of Boiling Springs,
S.C., Germanovich enlisted into the Air Force in November, 2012,
with two goals in mind.
“I always knew I wanted a challenge,”
said Germanovich. “I wanted to have a direct impact on the
battlefield wherever I went.”
Five years later, both of those
wishes would be granted when he deployed to Afghanistan and embedded
with 7 SFG (A) Soldiers and their Afghan partners.
tour, the joint force was tasked with clearing several valleys in
Nangarhar of fighters. As the multi-day operation progressed and the
coalition forces pushed the insurgents closer to the Afghan border
of Pakistan, the fighting became more and more violent, and it
reached a head as Germanovich sprinted through heavy enemy fire to
help the Special Forces Soldiers on that fateful day.
reaching the rock his teammates were pinned down behind, Germanovich
began to call in airstrikes to try and suppress the attack.
“It was working to a degree,” said Germanovich. “But we were still
receiving extremely effective fire, and one of our partner force
members had gotten shot.”
To evacuate the wounded Afghan
commando, Germanovich began to call for strikes extremely close to
their position in order to create more separation between the
coalition forces and the insurgents.
“As the bombs were
falling out of the sky, I started screaming at everybody to run for
cover,” said Germanovich.
After the partner force member was
evacuated, the special operations forces team launched their
counter-attack. A separate unit from across the valley was able to
pinpoint a key enemy bunker during the firefight, and Germanovich’s
element, led by De Alencar, crawled their way towards the position.
Once the fire team reached the top of the bunker, Germanovich
and De Alencar dropped grenades into its entrance. Then, as
Germanovich secured the opening and De Alencar and the other Special
Forces soldiers began to breach the bunker, insurgents ambushed the
team from hidden positions to the south, mortally wounding De
“The situation just became complete and utter
chaos,” said Germanovich. “The team and I had expended all of our
ordnance engaging enemy targets. We expended all of our grenades,
there was no more pistol ammunition, and we were out of ammo
Lying prone with no cover from the attack,
Germanovich put out a call to an AC-130W Stinger II gunship aircraft
that was leaving the area in order to refuel.
“As they were
leaving, I said ‘if you don’t come back, we’re dead.’” said
The gunship did return and began to fire on the
enemy fighters, which gave Germanovich and the soldiers the
opportunity to move away and evacuate De Alencar.
while, we’re still taking effective fire from the enemy,” said
Germanovich. “We began dropping ordnance and basically bombing up
this mountainside until we got to safety.”
actions proved decisive on that battlefield and demonstrated the
enormous impact of AFSOC’s precision strike mission, which provides
ground force with specialized capabilities to find, assess and
“You (Germanovich) told me earlier that you
did what any one of your teammates would have done in the same
situation,” said Allen. “But we don’t know that. We do know what you
did that day: face and devastate a numerically superior enemy…this
is why America’s enemies do not take us head on.”
Germanovich’s ability to enable precision strike operations and his
bravery in the face of hostile fire are incredibly courageous in
their own right, but it was the reason behind his valiant
performance that makes him an unquestionable hero.
100% my teammates,” said Germanovich. “If I’m in danger, I know
without a doubt in my mind that my teammates are going to do
everything in their power to make sure that I come back, and I would
do everything that I could possibly do to make sure that they come
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