The situation was looking grim when a team of 30 U.S. Army Special Forces and Afghan commandos found themselves surrounded in a Taliban-sympathizing village in Afghanistan’s Herat province on Oct. 5, 2009.
The team, which was tasked with targeting a Taliban commander, began taking small arms and sniper fire as enemy fighters closed in on nearby rooftops, some only 10 feet away. A four-hour firefight ensued.
Amidst the fury, the team’s sole joint terminal attack controller, then-Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez, Jr., an Air Force Special Operations Command combat controller, was shot in the left shoulder by an armor-piercing round. Gutierrez returned fire and killed the insurgent before collapsing and calling for a medic.