An Air Commando will be receiving the Air Force Cross for his actions during a desperate firefight in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Alaxey Germanovich, a Combat Controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, will receive the Air Force Cross, which is second only to the Medal of Honor, in a ceremony on Thursday, December 10.
On April 8, 2017, Germanovich, at the time a Senior Airman, and the Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) to which he was attached were ambushed by Taliban fighters in Nangahar Province. The American commandos and an Afghan Army partner force were conducting a search-and-destroy mission in a valley.
In several instances, Germanovich exposed himself to enemy sniper and machine-gun fire in order to direct accurate and effective close air support from an AC-130 gunship. At times, Germanovich directed fire within 20 meters from his position.
At some point, the American commandos ran out of ammunition for their rifles and expedited all of their grenades, using their pistols to stop the enemy’s advance. Germanovich then coordinated the team’s withdrawal while carrying a wounded teammate 700 meters uphill where the medevac helicopter awaited.
Germanovich’s actions protected over 150 friendly troops while destroyed 11 enemy fighting positions. He is the 12 Air Commando to receive the Air Force Cross since the Global War on Terror (GWOT) began.
Here is a part of the Air Force Cross citation that describes Germanovich’s actions on the target.
On that date, Airman Germanovich and his Special Forces team accompanied Afghan Special Operations Forces to seize key terrain in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. For 17 consecutive days, the American and Afghan forces were consistently engaged in close combat with enemy forces. He commanded numerous danger close airstrikes, directly engaged the enemy, and orchestrated medical evacuations.
On the morning of 8 April 2017, Airman Germanovich and his team came under intense machine gun and sniper fire. A ferocious firefight ensued, enveloping friendly forces with countless enemy fighting positions as insurgents continued to reinforce from all sides of the valley. Without hesitation, he deliberately placed himself in grave danger by sprinting toward his isolated teammates, traversing 70 meters of open terrain and a fusillade of machine gun fire. He directed multiple strafing runs, with 500-pound and 2,000-pound bomb strikes as close as 90 meters from his position.
As his team member was mortally wounded, Airman Germanovich placed himself between the attacking enemy and the pinned down friendly forces, protecting them with his body and employing his own suppressive fires.
Germanovich’s Air Force Cross was upgraded from the Bronze Star Medal with Valor that he had received at the time.
Combat Controllers specialize in surveying airfields and landing zones, direct air traffic, and controlling air support. Individual operators are usually attached to other special operations units, such as Navy SEAL platoons, Marine Raider teams, or, as in the case of Germanovich, Special Forces detachments.