On the night of October 5th, 2009, in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, a team comprised of Green Berets, Afghan Army soldiers and an Air Force Combat Controller were surrounded by enemies in a “Taliban sympathetic village”. They were ambushed by enemy combatants who were prepared for their arrival. Several members of the team sustained gunshot and shrapnel wounds during the initial firefight.
Master Sgt. Robert Gutierrez, the CCT, would be responsible for coordinating the air support necessary for the group to survive the engagement. The only problem was that he had been shot through the shoulder and his lung was punctured. As his respiratory system and chest cavity filled with blood, he not only called in an A-10 to provide strafing fire but continued firing his rifle all the while. By the time the team reached an extraction point two miles away by foot, Gutierrez had his collapsed lung decompressed via seven-inch needle twice, he had lost about half the blood in his body.
Seven surgeries and 19 months later, he was back on his feet again. He has been uniquely humble in assessment of his service. When he accepted the Air Force Cross medal in 2010 he refused to acknowledge his own heroism and instead commended his team and teachers.