Tyndall Air Force Base Release: Air Forces Northern Chief Master Sergeant Awarded Bronze Star
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - An Air Forces Northern chief master sergeant here was awarded the Bronze Star during a Commanders Call Feb. 15.
Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Sluder, Air, Space and Information Operations directorate superintendent, received the medal for his meritorious service during a deployment to Afghanistan from October 2011 to May 2012.
According to the medal citation, he “distinguished himself by meritorious achievement as Superintendent, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, while engaged in ground operations against the enemy at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.”
"This award is not given lightly,” said Col. Al Wimmer, Director of Air, Space and Information Operations. “We all heard the citation, but you can also read a lot between the lines. There's much more to the story. The challenges came, literally minute by minute in his role. Chief Sluder's dedication and support to the servicemen and women of the U.S. and Coalition forces was nothing short of stellar. As an Airman, I greatly admire anyone that has an opportunity to lead in combat and as an American, I am deeply thankful for the patriotic service of airmen like Chief Sluder. Stories like his inspire us all,” Wimmer said.
In theater, the Chief led its largest combat air group, made up of 1,060 Airmen in 10 squadrons whose mission was to execute close air support; electronic attack; combat search and rescue; tactical airlift; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and aeromedical evacuation missions throughout the area of responsibility.
"It was an incredible honor to have the Commander, First Air Force and the future Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, present my decoration,” Sluder said. “While the citation was being read, I could only think of the Fallen Comrade ceremonies I participated in for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who didn't come back, and if there was anything more that I could have done to bring back just one of them back.”
Identified within the citation as a “complex battlefield environment,” it goes on to attribute his “steadfast leadership” to the successful execution of missions that included 17,692 combat sorties that expended more than 500,000 pounds of ammunition; a response to 685 troops in contact and priority engagements ; and the evacuation of 2,064 patients to safety. Additionally, as a crisis action team leader, he did not hesitate to respond during 21 indirect fire rocket attacks and ensuring 100 percent accountability with no friendly loss of life.
“Serving the men and women of the Air Expeditionary Wing as the Group Superintendent and the Acting Wing Command Chief was the most humbling and yet rewarding experience of my life,” Sluder said. “ I would also like to say that without the incredible support from my wife Patty, my daughter, Katelyn, and my son, Scott and my second family of First Air Force, I could not have focused completely on taking care of the combat warriors. I humbly salute all Airmen and thank them for their unwavering commitment to the United States Air Force."
During his deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Chief Master Sergeant Joseph Sluder was accompanied by “Flat Stanley,” a gift from his son. The chief said it was given to him as a reminder his son was there with him constantly. Eventually, the character returned to the United States for a local school presentation about his overseas adventures. (Courtesy photo)