Combat photographer receives Bronze Star with Valor
By Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez, 11th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 05, 2017
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace, 89th Airlift Wing public affairs chief, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the fourth highest military decoration signifying heroism, on August 15, 2017 at Joint Base Andrews.
When receiving the medal, Wallace reflected on his team’s efforts in combat 6 years ago.
While deployed in 2011, Wallace, then a 4th Infantry Division combat photographer, and his team were performing night patrols through the Kobali and Kamusari villages, upon their return from the village they were detected by enemy forces and ambushed in the Badghis province of Afghanistan.
Over the next several hours, Wallace alternated between engaging the enemy and visually capturing the actions of his teammates with his camera. He successfully documented the battle, taking more than 400 photographs to be used for operational analysis, battle assessment, collateral intelligence, information operations, historical records of Air Force and joint operations, public affairs and other needs.
“Eleven men were out there and 11 men were heroes,” Wallace said. “There were men on the outpost providing overwatch who were heroes. Men on the quick-reaction force providing cover fire during our exfiltration were heroes. I don’t think anyone out there was less than a hero that day.”
Because of his combat experience, Wallace has taken part in the Air Force’s Invisible Wounds Initiative as a spokesperson, helping Airmen and their families cope with post-traumatic stress by developing an environment of understanding and trust among Airmen, families, peers and leadership.
"We owe it to Airmen and their families to support them during and after any injury, including invisible wounds,” said Maj. Gen. Kimberly Crider, mobilization assistant to the Under Secretary of the Air Force. “Whether they are returned to duty or transitioning out of the Air Force, these Airmen have earned the support and respect of their peers and leadership for as long as [recovery] takes."
Although, this one combat experience is over for Wallace, he continues to combat his invisible wounds and assist others to overcome their personal battles.
“I'm honored to be able to help [the IWI] spread the word so others may hopefully learn from my mistakes and keep their weapon systems clean so that they continue to fire true for years to come,” Wallace said.