In September 2013 Staff Sgt. Daniel Wilson deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, to the 455th
Security Forces Group as a military working dog handler. Wilson and MWD Dan completed more than
60 outside-the-wire missions, working with Army Pathfinders, 1st Calvary and an Air Force security
forces unit, call sign “The Reapers.” Through each of these complex missions, Wilson and Dan recovered
14 landmines, 12 rockets and three improvised explosive devices.
On the night of Sept. 10, 2013, Wilson reported a lone gunman standing on their intended route of
travel. While reporting this situation, Wilson’s K-9 spotter witnessed the gunman running away from
their position after detecting the movement of the patrol. Wilson released Dan to pursue and attack
the unknown gunman. During the chase Dan caught the odor of a 107mm mortar and alerted on
the IED. Wilson quickly noticed Dan’s response and spotted the gunman behind a nearby tree observing
the situation. Wilson engaged the insurgent with his M4 carbine, knocking him to the ground. The
area instantly erupted in automatic machine gun fire from approximately ten insurgents from multiple
directions. During the firefight, Wilson observed his spotter lying approximately 10 feet away from the
IED. While providing suppressive fire with minimal cover, Wilson made contact with his spotter and
warned him of the imminent danger of the IED. After approximately 20 minutes of continuous small
arms fire, Wilson’s fire team broke contact with the enemy to regroup with the squad leader. After
Wilson and Dan cleared a narrow path, he directed his fire team to relocate. Wilson then recalled the
other two fire teams to his safe position, where they quickly established 360 degree security, coupled
with laying down suppressive fire on the enemy. After about an hour of continued contact with the enemy, Wilson secured a route back to the safety of the squad’s mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. It was later discovered there were vehicle-borne IEDs on motorcycles in the Bagram Security Zone along with a possible insurgent “hit” out for a MWD without a tail. Dan does not have a tail.
Almost one month after the Sept. 10 event, Wilson and Dan went on a similar mission. On Oct. 9, 2013,
with the “hit on a MWD without a tail” information in his mind, Wilson maintained acute awareness of
his surroundings. His keen observation skills helped identify a motorcycle traveling at a high rate of
speed toward himself and Dan. Perceiving the motorcyclist to be a threat to Dan, Wilson immediately put Dan’s safety first and shoved the MWD out of the path of the oncoming motorcycle, subsequently absorbing the impact himself. This accident resulted in critical injuries to Wilson’s shoulders, knee and ankles.
Wilson’s courage under fire and constant vigilance prevented two terrible situations from becoming
catastrophic. His actions directly contributed to saving the lives of 12 Airmen as well as his partner,
Dan. For his extraordinary actions, dedication to the mission and service to his country, Wilson was
awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.