CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR _______________________________________________________
Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror
Operation Enduring Freedom - South and Central Asia - Afghanistan
Blake O. Luttrell
Captain Blake O. Luttrell, United State Air Force, heroically distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous conduct in the face of the enemy of the United States as Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Task Force One Panther, Mazar E Sharif, Afghanistan, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan, in support to Operation Enduring Freedom.
During a clearing operation on 9 January 2012, Captain Luttrell's partnered element of Afghan Commandos became overwhelmed by intense small arms fire from hardened insurgents fighting from fortified positions with caves.
The initial engagement resulted in two commando casualties, including one who died immediately from his wounds. Capt. Luttrell maneuvered with his element through heavy enemy fire to recover the casualties. Captain Luttrell calmly identified enemy positions and provided precise terminal guidance to supporting air weapons team to neutralize the enemy fortifications by multiple air-to-ground engagements as the assault force continued to advance. The element recovered the wounded commandos as enemy fire focused on the maneuvering assault force. Captain Luttrell continued to control air weapons team fires to neutralize enemy positions within the cave complex to cover the element. The devastating effect of the precision fires on the enemy created a momentary lull, and enabled the assault force to move the casualties to a save location for extraction.
Captain Luttrell subsequently directed an inbound medical evacuation helicopter through hazardous terrain to make a safe landing to evacuate the friendly casualties and them returned to continue the assault. The assault force continued maneuvering on the enemy fortifications and cleared a compound to take cover from intensifying enemy small arms fire to prepare for a final assault. When the medic within his element became critically wounded while protecting the assault force, and women and children found near the enemy position, Captain Luttrell deployed a smoke grenade into the main cave fortifications, returned fire, and courageously moved through continued incoming fire to assist his comrade.
Captain Luttrell continued to engage the enemy from extremely close range as he assisted with moving his critically wounded teammate behind a covered position to begin medically treating him. Captain Luttrell again directed the medical evacuation helicopter to extract the critically wounded medic, and immediately returned to continue the assault. Captain Luttrell quickly ensured all members of the assault force remained in covered positions and immediately provided terminal guidance for a decisive, precision strike by supporting close air support platforms to neutralize the fortified enemy. The assault force subsequently repositioned reinforcements to assist with the assault to destroy the remaining enemy within the cave complex.
Captain Luttrell courageously took the fight to the enemy in the face of extreme danger. Captain Luttrell's actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, Afghanistan, the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Afghanistan, and the United States Army.