SOG combat controller named best in Air Force

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
Staff Sgt. Jeremy King, a combat controller with the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, was recently announced as the top Combat Control Airman in the Air Force for 2009.

The recently promoted sergeant earned the award after a year that included supporting combat operations in Afghanistan and humanitarian operations in Indonesia.

"To be honest, I didn't know there was an Air Force-level award for Combat Control Airman of the Year," Sergeant King said. "I was honored to win the major command-level award, but this is a truly humbling experience. Combat Control is a small community with so many outstanding warriors. To be recognized within this community is unbelievable."

During his four-month deployment, Sergeant King served as the sole combat controller with U.S. Army Special Forces at a remote firebase. He enabled 65 successful combat missions, including nine direct-action missions and two major operations into known enemy safe havens resulting in the capture of two high-valued targets and the destruction of a weapons cache.

He also controlled air support for 30 missions including five firefights involving coalition soldiers and established a helicopter landing zone to evacuate six critically-injured coalition soldiers. He even directed artillery strikes against enemy fighters attacking his forward operating base. On numerous occasions, Sergeant King engaged the enemy directly with his assault rifle while simultaneously directing air support. During one mission, Sergeant King exposed himself to enemy fire to gain a better vantage point to control aircraft.

When his deployment was over, Sergeant King had earned the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Air Force Combat Action medals.

The combat controller also helped open a damaged airfield after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Padang, Indonesia, during 2009. Sergeant King served as the lead air traffic controller at the airfield controlling 62 multi-national sorties that delivered more than 140,000 pounds of lifesaving supplies.

When not deployed, Sergeant King is constantly preparing himself and others for the future. When he's not training, he's mastering new equipment and leading other squadron members. He completed numerous required and additional training courses for combat controllers and conducted weapons training on four weapon systems while scoring expert on his primary weapons.

"The 320th Special Tactics Squadron is extremely proud to be represented by Staff Sergeant Jeremy King at the Air Force level," said Maj. John Traxler, the 320th STS commander. "His extraordinary accomplishments, courage under fire and proven ability to impact the battlefield by protecting his team and killing insurgents are a testimony to our broader community. In an extremely elite field that is rich with the warrior ethos and acts of bravery, he has excelled above all. His recognition is critically important, as it highlights the impact of the 353rd SOG outside the Pacific theater -- an important role that too often goes unsung. I am personally humbled to work every day for the likes of Jeremy King, humble and genuine, he represents the best America has to offer."