ANG Airman awarded Silver Star

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By Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht, 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published July 03, 2014

Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff, left, The Adjutant General of New Jersey, presents Master Sgt. Michael F. Sears, 177th Fighter Wing, the Silver Star, the third highest military award, June 28, 2014, during a ceremony at the 177th at Egg Harbor Township, N.J., for actions while deployed to Afghanistan on Sept. 29, 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)


An Air National Guard explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 177th Fighter Wing was awarded the Silver Star here June 28 for valor in combat while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

Master Sgt. Michael F. Sears, the leader of a small team of explosive ordnance disposal airmen, is credited with saving the life of a fellow International Security Assistance Force soldier in the midst of an ambush by enemy forces on Sept. 29, 2012, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.

On that day, a three-man Air Force explosive ordnance disposal team led by Sears found itself in the middle of a complex ambush in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. During the course of a two-hour firefight, Sears provided life-saving aid to a fallen coalition soldier from Poland; ran five times through a 150-yard open area riddled with enemy machine gun fire to direct his team in returning fire; and continued on with the fight after being knocked temporarily unconscious by a rocket-propelled grenade blast. Sears joins a group of 58 Airmen who have been awarded the Silver Star since the Global War on Terrorism began.

"What a great American and he really personifies, truly, what we as a Guard are," said Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau. "It is just phenomenal how he just stepped out away from safety to save others. We talk about the Silver Star being awarded for him saving the life of a Polish soldier, but he saved the lives of many soldiers that day."

"It wouldn't be me getting the Silver Star; it would be my wife, if it weren't for Tech. Sgt. Jay Hurley," said Sears.

Sears praised both of his teammates, Hurley and Staff Sgt. Josh Jerden, with courage under fire.

"Hurley, on that day, without hesitation, used his vehicle to cover me," said Sears. "Josh Jerden dismounted his vehicle on the side of enemy fire and engaged the enemy on foot. Their actions showed what kind of team I had."

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