On May 21, 2014, while deployed to the 466th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight Operating Location -
Bravo, Tech. Sgt. Kristopher Parker, Senior Airman TJ Brantley and (then) Senior Airman Kyle Bushey, air
assaulted into the mountains of Kandahar Providence in support of U.S. Army forces and Afghan Border
Police. They were tasked with clearing a cave system suspected of housing improvised explosive devices,
ammunition and supply caches for insurgent forces.
On first descent, within 100 meters from the cave opening, a fire fight erupted with rounds striking within one
meter of the Airmen. Team members immediately returned suppressive fire, pinning down the insurgents in
the cave. After several air strikes their team destroyed four IED caches on their second approach to the cave.
Five hours into the mission the team approached the cave a third time following another round of close
air support. The insurgents once again responded with machine gun fire from the cave opening. Brantley
quickly returned fire and pulled a soldier out of the line of fire. During this engagement the Army lieutenant
leading the element sustained a gunshot wound to the leg, instantly shattering bone. Insurgents then fired
rocket-propelled grenades and threw a 20-pound IED that detonated within three meters of their position,
throwing Parker and Brantley back resulting in severe concussions. After assessing injuries while still under
fire the pair provided combat care to the lieutenant while Brantley carried him to a new cover position,
and continued assisting the medic with additional first aid even lying on top of the wounded lieutenant
shielding him from additional injury.
While moving in and out of consciousness from heat exposure and without hesitation for his own personal
safety, Bushey provided effective cover fire with his M-4 rifle on the sniper positions. With rounds striking
the rocks in front of him, Bushey shifted his fire to the entrance of the cave to provide suppressive fire on
the enemy locations, allowing friendly troops to safely evacuate the injured platoon leader. Throughout
the incident Bushey engaged the enemy with rifle fire and aided in the establishment of a new landing
zone, making four trips up and down the mountain to guide reinforcements to the engagement area and
provide resupply to his team. After facilitating the platoon leader’s medevac, Parker evacuated with the rest
of the unit, ending a 12-hour operation that sustained direct and indirect enemy fire and resulted in the
destruction of an enemy stronghold. Due largely in part to Parker’s leadership and expertise no American
lives were lost that day.
Bushey’s bravery and heroism selflessly put the lives of fellow Soldiers and Airmen before his own and
directly enabled the trapped platoon to break contact and evacuate the wounded. Throughout the grueling
10-hour mission, despite dehydration and a traumatic brain injury, Brantley stayed in the fight providing
cover fire and exposing his body to protect the wounded. He was awarded the Air Force Combat Action
Medal and the Purple Heart Medal. For their courageous actions, Parker was submitted for the Silver Star,
and both Brantley and Bushey have been submitted for the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.