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Airman to receive Silver Medal on Friday for role in Afghanistan

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith, an ST combat controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, will be awarded the Silver Star on Nov. 22, 2019. (US Air Force 24th Special Operations Wing/Released)
November 22, 2019

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith will be awarded the Silver Medal at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 22., at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, for gallantry against an armed enemy of the United States in combat.

Smith, who was named Air Force Times’ 2019 Airman of the Year, is a combat controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, ABC News reported.

He was deployed with a U.S. Special Forces Team during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in support of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Special Tactics are the Air Force’s ground special operation forces. They lead the global access, precision strike, battlefield surgical operations and personnel recovery.

Smith is being awarded the nation’s third-highest medal for securing the safety of his joint and partner force members by preventing enemy forces in Afghanistan from overrunning allies during national parliamentary elections in October 2018.

During the two-week-long mission, Smith served as the sole joint terminal attack controller, or JTAC. On October 7, 2018, Smith and the joint Army and Afghan teams were on their way to disperse Taliban forces who took over a Maymana village in northwest Afghanistan when they were met with machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

In a firefight that lasted nearly 10 hours and without any regard for his own life, Smith exposed himself to accurate enemy fire so he could control airstrikes, assist dozens of citizens who were killed or injured by the Taliban’s ambush.

Smith was able to coordinate the attacks with F-16 Fighting Falcons and AH-64 Apache helicopters by using multiple precision-guided 500-pound bombs engaging as close as 90 meters away.

One week later, Smith was specifically targeted and severely concussed from effective mortar fire which hit two meters away from his position when nearly 600 Taliban fighters attacked the village from the south.

When he regained consciousness, he declined medical attention and continued to control airstrikes and neutralize the remaining threats for another five hours.

When an RPG hit his vehicle, again, Smith declined medial support so he could continue to fight. He remained with his team for 14 hours of in a vehicle, back to friendly lines and ensure their safety.

Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, will officiate the ceremony on Friday.

Special Tactics Airmen have received one Medal of Honor, 11 Air Force Crosses and 48 Silver Stars since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.