HOHENFELS, Germany — Air Force Senior Airman Brad Salazar, 8th Air Support Operations Squadron radio operator, maintainer and driver, was honorably awarded the prestigious Bronze Star medal during a ceremony Aug. 8.
The airman was presented the award by Air Force Col. Thomas Gould, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing commander at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"I was excited and didn't think I was going to get it until someone said 'We have your Bronze Star'," Salazar said. "I thought that it was going to be downgraded, so I was happy when I got the news."
His actions that earned him the medal were from his deployment to the Zabul province in Afghanistan last year, where he successfully completed multiple extract of friendly personnel and close air support missions.
"His performance was remarkable," Gould said at the presentation ceremony. "It's rare and he is certainly worthy of the honor."
It was a first for both the presenter and award winner. What made the event even more special was that it had taken place at exercsie Allied Strike 10 where his tactical air control party peers from around the world where able to attend.
"I definitely think this was a great place to receive the award," Salazar said "The TACP community is a tight-knit group. I felt the love after the presentation. I thought that it was especially good for the younger A1Cs to see this and influence them so they know it's possible. If my fiancé was here to see, that would have been the icing on the cake."
Gould also noted this was a perfect venue to highlight such an accomplishment for the young Airman.
"Salazar is like a quiet storm," said Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Chapital, 8th ASOS commander. "He is meticulous and a hard worker in everything he does. I am truly honored to work with him and be in the same squadron as him."
Salazar is a Seboyeta, N.M, native and has been in the Air Force since May 2007. Before entering the Air Force he had done construction but always heard his aunts and uncles talking about his grandfather being in the Air Force.
"When I decided I didn't want to do construction for the rest of my life that's when I went to the recruiter," Airman Salazar said. "He started giving me construction jobs, and I told him I want to do something a little over the top, a little more extreme. Now I am here waiting to take my (Joint Terminal Air Controller) evaluation next month."
Being a TACP member after completing a deployment was an eye-opening and career-broadening experience.
"The deployment had a good affect and opened up my eyes to things I haven't experienced," he said. "Up until that point everything was theoretical. Being deployed, you actually see the pieces come together, and was great for my career."