More than 40 central Ohio airmen with the Air National Guard were honored on Sunday.
Members of the 121st Air Refueling Wing were recognized for their bravery and heroism during a 9-month mission. Some served as firefighters to protect the Isa Air base in Bahrain and others as airmen charged with security inside and outside Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
“Our goal was to deny enemy access to Bagram Airfield, to push them outside the operating area, and we were able to accomplish that,” said Master Sgt. Troy Taylor.
Taylor was awarded a bronze star for helping to evacuate five wounded soldiers from a downed helicopter. Staff Sgt. Steven Nace received the same honor for administering first aid to wounded men after a suicide bomber attack.
“It’s representative of everything everybody accomplished,” Nace said. “Not just one individual.”
Technical Sgt. Gregory Geisler received a Purple Heart during riots near the base in February.
“A rioter with a shotgun shot at me, and one of the pellets got through the tower I was in,” Geisler said. “I was struck in the face."
The injury did not keep Geisler from completing his mission.
“Just because you’re hit, doesn’t mean you’re down, doesn’t mean you’re out,” Geisler said. “If you quit, you let your teammates down.”
Taylor said that his pride extends beyond rewards.
“I say the highlight is coming home as a leader,” Taylor said. “Knowing that every butt I put in the theater came home with me, and to be honest, it's a proud day.”
For Taylor and many others, being home with loved ones makes the struggle well worth it.
“It's such a rush, things go by so quickly, and you live moment to moment,” Taylor said. “By the time you get home, it seems like one really long day. So, I got to be honest with you, it was nice to put the feet up, have a cup of coffee with my kid and my wife.”
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