106th Security Forces Airmen Awarded For Combat Operations Published July 25, 2012 By 106th Public Affairs 106th Rescue Wing WESTHAMPTON BEACH, NY -- Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing Security Forces Squadron, New York Air National Guard, were presented the Air Force Combat Action Medal on May 1st 2012 in Westhampton Beach, New York during an awards ceremony officiated by the 106th Rescue Wing Commander, Colonel Thomas J. Owens II. While serving in Operation Enduring Freedom Staff Sergeants Eric Auletta, Brian Hammel, Keith Mangels and Senior Airman Joseph Pico actively participated in combat operations with the Office of Special Investigations Expeditionary Detachment at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The decoration was presented for being involved in direct fighting where they risked their lives in an enemy engagement. During the ceremony, Major Celestino J. Martinez, Commander of the 106th Security Forces Squadron, commended them for their bravery and courage while engaging the insurgents and executing the mission. Major Martinez stated "all of us, your leadership, your families are proud of you and what you have accomplished so far, you have shown us that when it counts the most, you will perform; it why you are Defenders of the Force." The Security Forces Airmen conducted combat operations for numerous missions while under constant threat of attack. They covered a large footprint of improvised explosive device laden terrain. This enabled the collection of time sensitive information and ensured the capture of high valued individuals from the battlefield. They facilitated the removal of weapons caches, multiple improvised explosive devices targeted against Coalition forces, and neutralized vehicle borne improvised explosive devices. Their actions enhanced the security of the Bagram Air Base, its personnel and over three billion dollars in war fighting assets. The 106th SFS also executed security support, enabling the Office of Special Investigation to better safeguard ISAF personnel, including Afghan, American and coalition service members as well as other bases throughout the Regional Command. The Air Force Combat Action Medal was established on March 15th 2007 to recognize Airmen who actively participated in combat, ground or air. An individual must have been under direct and hostile fire while operating in unsecured space, outside the defended perimeter, or physically engaging hostile forces with direct and lethal fire. The 106th Rescue Wing is a part of the New York Air National Guard and continues to deploy worldwide to provide combat support to U.S. and allied forces.