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Pararescueman receives Silver Star

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christine Griffiths
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A Kirtland Airman received a Silver Star medal at a July 14 ceremony at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

Staff Sgt. Zachary Kline was awarded the Silver Star medal for gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan April 23, 2011.

Kline, an instructor for the pararescue school in the 342nd Training Rescue Squadron Det 1, was deployed as a member of the 306th Rescue Squadron, a Reserve unit at Davis-Monthan.

"The Silver Star is way up on the continuum of honor," said Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla, Deputy Inspector General of the Air Force who presided over the event. "That means you voluntarily risked your life to save others, voluntarily risked your life to expose yourself to great danger in the service of your country. And that is exactly what Zach Kline did that day."

Kline endured approximately six hours under enemy fire, while in the process of recovering two U.S. Military members.

"It's an honor being recognized for just doing my job," said Kline. "I worked with some awesome guys and was nice being a part of it."

According to the award citation, Kline was a part of a rescue team tasked to recover two U.S. Army pilots from an OH-58D Kiowa that had gone down. While on the ground, Kline fought enemy fire while coordinating by radio with aircraft to target threats located behind his position.

During the engagement, an incoming round ignited fuel within the wreckage, which then erupted in flames. He continued to push through enemy fire to an alternate site while still guiding overhead aircraft to adversarial positions by radio.

"He leaves us with an example of an Airman that bands together with other Airmen to get the job done and to save others so that they may live," Padilla said. "When Zack leaves our Air Force he's going to leave it just a little bit better because of his accomplishments while he was here."

The Silver Star is the third highest military decoration for valor and is given for gallantry in action against enemies of the United States.