LRS officer receives bronze star for actions in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Deborah Mercurio
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Today, a suicide car bomber is everyone's nightmare; for Capt. David W. Simpson, 377th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant director of operations, it was a reality.

On a sunny, mild February day, the captain, as the transportation commander, bumped along on the dusty Afghan road on his orientation convoy of Humvees and Ford Rangers. He had recently arrived in Afghanistan to serve on the Air Force's first embedded team to train the Afghan army to be operational. He and his fellow Americans were there to provide security on the convoys and perform convoy operations. Afghan convoys are different from Iraqi convoys in that they are made up all Afghan soldiers, and the trucks are Ford Rangers as opposed to the tractor trailers used in Iraqi. The Rangers have no armor, and the soldiers, armed with AK-47s, are exposed in the back.

It was quiet, very quiet, as they drove through Kandahar City. No convoy rounds were shot which was unusual. Typically, shots are fired during a run to serve as a warning to people or vehicles getting too close to the convoy. On this day, oddly, no one approached. A 10-foot drop to a canal was on one side of the two-lane road with a row of shops and fivefoot mud walls on the other side. Maneuverability was greatly impacted.

As the convoy reached the outskirts of the city and approached a bridge, the local police had stopped six vehicles from crossing it. The convoy was allowed to continue. The captain's concentration was intent in absorbing all he could on this orientation run when suddenly a white, compact vehicle darted out from what seemed like nowhere and struck the third Humvee in the convoy. Wildly, the vehicle spun out of control coming to a rest 20 feet from the convoy. The insurgent leaped from the vehicle and hurled a grenade at the convoy. He desperately tried to throw another one when the Afghan soldiers opened fire; the grenade exploded in his hand.

While the bomb in the car did not detonate, would an ambush follow? Captain Simpson, in the first Humvee, quickly turned the vehicle around to provide additional fire power against the attacker. Once the attack was over, he dismounted his gun truck, at great risk to himself, to lead six Afghan soldiers in securing the area. He then established a traffic control point that lasted for five hours until the convoy was able to proceed.

This experience qualified him for the Bronze Star he received at a ceremony held here Nov. 15. He was also lauded for his all encompassing meritorious service and contributions to the mission the entire time he was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As the Afghanistan National Army Embedded Training Team Combat Service Support Battalion Transportation Company commander, mentor and battalion intelligence officer, the captain ultimately achieved his goal of making the Afghan soldiers under his charge 100 percent self-sufficient in convoy operations.

"The Afghan soldiers really absorbed what we taught them; I saw it every day. They recognized how important it is for the future of their nation," said Captain Simpson.