CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR
Operation Enduring Freedom - South and Central Asia - Afghanistan
Staff Sergeant Cecil C. Gilbreath
Staff Sergeant Cecil C. Gilbreath distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States at Konduz Province, Afghanistan, from 30 October 2009 to 6 November 2009.
During this period, Sergeant Gilbreath displayed extraordinary bravery during two significant battles. On 2 November 2009, his Special Forces team and their Afghanistan National Army partners were attacked by 30 enemy fighters in a well-coordinated L-shaped ambush. As a mortar round landed 20 feet from his location and two rocket propelled grenade rounds impacted within 15 feet spraying his vehicle and helmet with shrapnel, he exposed himself to direct enemy fire to visually identify the enemies' positions. Using his video downlink to view the aircraft's sensor footage, Sergeant Gilbreath coordinated three separate pinpoint bomb strikes that devastated the insurgents and halted the attack.
On 5 November 2009, Sergeant Gilbreath's team participated in a clearing operation of a local village occupied by an estimated 120 Taliban and foreign fighters. When the team reached the center of the town, they became surrounded by a well-trained heavily armed enemy force. Withdrawal was not an option due to the canalizing urban terrain. As bullets and shrapnel impacted his vehicle from all directions and the enemy closed on his team's position, Sergeant Gilbreath ignored the prospect of death and masterfully brought airpower to bear. He directed two immediate danger close strafing runs against insurgent fighters just 30 feet from his position. These attacks suppressed the nearest threats, but did little to deter the enemy force. For the next hour, Sergeant Gilbreath maintained his partially exposed position in the gun truck and, without regard for his own safety, methodically decimated the enemy with eight more airstrikes.
His actions turned the tide of the battle and allowed his team to defeat the enemy assault with no friendly casualties.
By his gallantry and devotion to duty. Sergeant Galbreath has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.