On June 1, 2014 , Tech. Sgt. Thomas Bauhs, a combat controller attached to an Army Special Forces
team, was conducting a large-scale combined clearance mission with Afghan National Security Forces
in an enemy-dominated valley in central Nangarhar Province. During this operation, Bauhs’ team was
ambushed by more than 50 insurgents firing from multiple fighting positions. A 12-hour firefight
ensued, which involved repeated insurgent attacks using AK-47s, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled
grenades and recoilless rifles. Six hours into the firefight, Bauhs and the ground force commander were
on a rooftop when their position received a sustained barrage of heavy machine gun and sniper fire
from multiple locations.
Bauhs returned fire with his M203 grenade launcher while calling two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft
onto enemy positions. As he prepared to control an airstrike, an enemy 82-millimeter recoilless rifle
round impacted within feet of his position. The violent blast left Bauhs briefly incapacitated, knocking
him from his feet and filling the air with dust and smoke. Despite his condition, he quickly directed the
release of two 500-pound bombs onto enemy locations.
Shortly after the “cleared hot” call and within 30 seconds of the first blast, a second 82-mm round
impacted three feet above Bauhs’ head on the opposite side of a wall he was taking cover behind.
The blast collapsed part of the wall onto Bauhs and again drove him to the ground. Bauhs staggered
back to his feet with a perforated eardrum and traumatic brain injury, passed control of the aircraft
to another combat controller and then rendered first aid to the wounded, unconscious ground force
commander. In this exposed position with heavy enemy machine gun fire impacting within feet of his
position, Bauhs moved the ground force commander to nearby cover and radioed for aid. After two
teammates arrived they moved their wounded leader to a nearby building.
While his teammates continued medical care, Bauhs coordinated with another combat controller
for the medical evacuation. He identified a suitable landing zone for the helicopter evacuation,
and provided the safest arrival and departure route. Throughout the remainder of the firefight, and
despite his injuries, Bauhs synchronized and controlled nine additional air-to-ground engagements.
He coordinated close air support from an AC-130W Stinger II orbiting overhead and AH-64 Apache
helicopters to conduct strafing runs on multiple locations. Bauhs continued coordinating air support
to protect the remainder of the team while leading his teammates to the exfiltration landing zone.
Bauhs’ quick reactions and calm demeanor under heavy enemy fire, despite injuries, resulted in 11
enemies killed and no further friendly casualties. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for
his actions.