CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR _______________________________________________________
First Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror
Operation Enduring Freedom - South and Central Asia - Afghanistan
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star to Technical Sergeant Ismael Villegas, United States Air Force, for gallantry in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States near the Helmand Province, Afghanistan from 6 February 2011 to 24 February 2011.
During this period, Sergeant Villegas selflessly and repeatedly risked his life during nonstop enemy engagements. When a friendly element was pinned down by hostile fire, Sergeant Villegas, with total disregard for his own personal safety, ran towards the vulnerable troops to gather intelligence on the insurgent fortified positions.
Totally exposed to the barrage of enemy fire, he decisively utilized overhead unmanned aerial vehicles and fixed wing close air support to decimate the hostiles delivering a 14,000-pound bombardment. Sergeant Villegas volunteered for a patrol to conduct sensitive site exploitation where his element encountered another hostile assault of recoilless rifle and machine gun rounds impacting within feet of their position.
After a Special Forces teammate directly beside him was struck by rocket propelled grenade shrapnel he laid down covering fire and moved to the wounded warrior completely exposing himself to the heavy enemy fire. Sergeant Villegas pulled his teammate behind a wall and placed himself between the adversary and his team as he provided additional cover fire. He controlled fixed wing close air support within 60 meters and danger close to friendly positions in order to disrupt the onslaught long enough for Sergeant Villegas and the rest of the patrol to fight their way out of the kill zone.
Over the 18-day mission, riddled with ferocious trench warfare battles, Sergeant Villegas controlled 40 aircraft, delivering over 32,500 pounds of precision ordnance, resulting in 21 enemy confirmed killed in action and destroyed eight fighting positions and two communication repeaters.
By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Villegas has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Action Date: February 6 - 24, 2011
Service: Air Force
Rank: Technical Sergeant