Staff Sgt. Christopher Lewis receives Silver Star for actions in battle against ISIS for Mosul

 
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Staff Sgt. Christopher Lewis receives Silver Star for actions in battle against ISIS for Mosul

There is no way to do this story without you reading it for yourself.  I’m going to put some clips from the Air Force Times in here, but you MUST go read it yourself.

As a unit of Navy SEALs and Lewis, a Joint Tactical Air Controller (JTAC, although he’s also a combat controller) moved on two villages outside Mosul with some Peshmerga as support, the .50 cal machine gun on the roof stopped working through the joystick inside.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, some of the newer vehicles are more like video games, you shoot them from inside.  But in this case, it wasn’t working properly.

Locating indirect fire isn’t easy, but it became even more challenging when the remote-operated .50-caliber machine gun on top of their gun truck stopped working. That meant the hardware couldn’t be fired with a joystick from inside the protection of their vehicle. Someone had to go outside to work it.

“Ours goes down, and we needed a gun in the fight,” Lewis said. “And just because of the load-out that day in the truck, the ground force commander and myself were the only two in the back, so that’s kind of just by chance why I had to get on the gun. Because obviously, you know, that’s not where [JTACs] belonged.”

As the team’s Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Lewis was instead supposed to be focusing on talking to aircraft to provide intelligence, evacuate the wounded by helicopter, and conduct airstrikes. Manning a machine gun critical to the fight was a separate — and full-time — job.

I’ve said over and over that if I could do it all again, and had the eyesight for it, I would have gone JTAC instead of Infantry in the Army.  They get to engage the enemy just as much (or more) and when they go back, they are in the Air Force, not the Army.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Army.  But we had 7 guys living in our B-Huts in Afghanistan (B-Huts are 18 feet by 36 feet) while the JTACs had 2. 

Air Force Special Operations Command had a good piece written before the Silver Star was approved:

In the midst of withering grenade, mortar, and small arms fire, Lewis systematically engaged the enemy in multiple locations from the open turret. He held this vulnerable position for hours despite direct enemy fire impacting within inches of him.

While the fight raged all around him, Lewis directed F-15Es and B-52s to conduct airstrikes within 400 meters of his team, eliminating enemy defensive fighting positions and fighters moving toward their position. After successfully engaging multiple targets and suppressing enemy fire, Lewis identified, engaged, and destroyed an enemy vehicle-borne improvised explosive device barreling toward his team at high speed - exploding within 100 meters of the convoy.

Moving out of the line of fire to recover, the convoy was ambushed again by enemy fire from a concealed tunnel entrance only 100 meters away. They maneuvered away from the attack as Lewis prepared to direct an airstrike on the building. During the movement, the team in the lead vehicle identified an improvised explosive device (IED) ahead and halted the convoy.

As the convoy backed away, another IED detonated, triggering seven subsequent explosions that rocked the team and mortally wounded one U.S. service member. Without hesitation, Lewis leapt out of the turret and ran across the top of the truck to assist the wounded.

Lewis controlled the casualty evacuation on the radio while simultaneously providing medical care to his teammates. While he moved his severely wounded teammate and established a hasty helicopter landing zone, he also worked with aircraft to assess and eliminate a second vehicle-borne threat before it reached his team.

Over the course of the hours-long firefight, Lewis engaged the enemy at close range on three occasions within 100 meters and directed four precise airstrikes, which provided his team crucial air coverage and eliminated more than 20 enemy forces. He has been recommended for the Silver Star Medal for his actions.

That’s an amazing story of heroism.  Good on Staff Sergeant Lewis, good for the Air Force, and good for anyone who cheers when ISIS bad guys achieve room temperature.  Congratulations, and job well done.

Posted in the burner | 4 comments
 
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Comments

JTAC's and Combat Controllers were some of the toughest folks I had the priveledge of serving with at the 1st SOW...these guys go anywhere and everywhere to do their mission and do not get the accolades they should. Hard for people to understand that the SOW has some badass' in the Air Force, but we were there before and after the Army Rangers and Seal's. Go Air Commando!

Outstanding action, deserves the recognition

I suspect, these guys share specific DNA MARKERS, resulting in HONOR. TRUE GRIT, CHARACTER...EMPATHY, ....INTELLIGENCE, ...THE STUFF OF HEROS...

Where do we find people like Staff Sergeant Lewis!

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.