CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR
Operation Enduring Freedom - South and Central Asia - Afghanistan
Staff Sergeant Lienhard
Staff Sergeant Joseph M. Lienhard distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States near the Balkh Valley, Afghanistan, from 28 October 2001 to 20 December 2001.
As Sergeant Lienhard targeted and destroyed an enemy bunker complex on 5 November 2001, his team was decisively engaged by a well-planned and executed counterattack by Taliban forces.
With complete disregard for his own personal safety and despite heavy incoming small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades impacting all around his position, Sergeant Lienhard calmly remained exposed to coordinated close air support. With nearly all of his host nations forces fleeing in panic and Taliban forces closing in on his position, Sergeant Lienhard instinctively and successfully directed numerous dangerous close air strikes to thwart the enemy's advance.
Facing overwhelming odds, Sergeant Lienhard mounted his horse and lethally engaged the enemy with his M-4 rifle and M-203 grenade launcher providing covering fire while he repositioned to another observation point. Withdrawing by fire, literally within feet of potentially fatal gunfire, Sergeant Lienhard contacted a B-52 aircraft and with pinpoint accuracy targeted his previously occupied location. With devastating effectiveness, he controlled numerous bombing runs to recapture the strategically important ridgeline effectively breaking the Taliban's advance turning certain defeat into victory.
Sergeant Lienhard's valor and calm demeanor under intense enemy fire exemplify the highest standards of bravery in the face of the enemy. His personal actions on the battlefield were decisive and instrumental in the liberation of six northern Afghan provinces and prevented a major defeat of General Dostam's Northern Alliance forces during their campaign to capture Mazer-e-Sharif.
By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Lienhard has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.