Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Metzger receives Bronze Star for fighting off Taliban for hours while twice wounded

Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Metzger receives Bronze Star for fighting off Taliban for hours while twice wounded
Gen. Mike Holmes, left, commander of Air Combat Command, pins a Bronze Star Medal with valor to Staff Sgt. Aaron Metzger, right, 38th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, Aug. 26, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base. TARYN BUTLER/U.S. AIR FORCE

An Air Force pararescueman was awarded a Bronze Star with valor this week, following several surgeries and months of efforts to get back on duty after being seriously wounded in Afghanistan last year.

Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes presented Metzger, assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, with his Bronze Star on Monday.

While assigned to the 83d Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing out of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, Metzger was part of an April 29, 2018 helicopter assault intended to destroy a Taliban weapons facility and disrupt the terror group’s networks in the region.

During a patrol, Metzger’s unit came under attack from “intense” machine gun and small arms fire from Taliban fighters positioned on a nearby ridge, according to his citation. Outflanked, the he immediately returned fire despite enemy fighters maneuvering “within five meters” of his position.

Despite his exposure to “continuous enemy fire,” Metzger maneuvered to aid two Afghan partners who were severely injured by a Taliban grenade, according to an ACC release: “Disregarding the risk to himself, he carried the two partners away from enemy fire.”

While treating partner forces, Metzger was injured by grenade shrapnel to hisi his right arm and chest, but “remained calm in order to guide a fellow teammate to perform life-saving treatment on himself,” according to his citation

Even after he was again wounded, this time by small arms fire, Metzger “refused to be carried to the medical evacuation helicopter so personnel could focus on security,” according to the release.

“The heroic action and unselfish dedication to duty displayed by Sgt. Metzger reflect great credit upon himself and the Air Force,” the citation says.

On Monday, during a ceremony at Georgia’s Moody Air Force Base, Gen. Mike Holmes said he was proud to present Metzger the military’s fourth-highest individual medal, with a “V” device for battlefield courage, noting both Metzger’s actions that April night in Afghanistan and his efforts to return to duty since.

“I know this room understands what you did better than most,” said Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, in front of leaders from the base, as well as Metzger’s family and his fellow members of the 38th Rescue Squadron. “I’m sure it’s an honor to be able to do this in front of people who understand.”

Standing in front of a wall decorated with a large pair of green footprints, a pararescue symbol, Holmes said Metzger was the son of a security forces master sergeant, but didn’t immediately join the service after high school and had first considered the Coast Guard.

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