Project Hero: Staff Sgt Stephen Achey, Silver Star Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, June 09, 2007
The last Project Hero post highlighted the valor of an Airforce TACC NCO in Iraq. Today we honor another one, this time in Afghanistan, where, under violent and adverse conditions 26 year old Staff Sergeant Stephen Achey risked his life to ensure the safety of his mates and the success of their mission:
Executed in the frigid, icy mountainous terrain of the Shahikot Valley in Afghanistan, Operation Anaconda elevated the most courageous tendencies of the human spirit, whether from Navy SEALS, Green Berets, Army infantry, or, in the case of Staff Sergeant Stephen Achey, a member of the U.S. Air Force.
Achey’s job as a terminal attack command and control specialist (TACC) required that he be on the ground in-country with Army infantry to call in precision air strikes on enemy targets. But when his team was ambushed by a hurricane of enemy fire, a mortar blast damaged his radio. That’s when Achey devised a plan to salvage a vital piece of equipment from the middle of the fully exposed battlefield.
Achey sprang to his feet and ran at top speed. He could hear bullets whizzing through the air and pinging off the terrain around him. But then Achey heard the deep, drumming sound of an enemy RPK machine gun just fifty meters away. The gun spit a lethal chain of fire that tracked him as he ran. Somehow, Achey managed to scoop up the needed gear, turn, and race back to the bowl-like indention he and the others were using for cover.
Alternating between his radio and rifle, Achey killed three enemy fighters with his AR-15 rifle. But it was Achey’s ability to calculate pinpoint coordinates and orchestrate a gunship and fighter attack that destroyed numerous enemy positions and facilitated the extraction of his wounded brothers in arms.
“It was very special to have the Army guys treat me as one of their own, but I was just doing my job,” Achey told us. “I just did what anyone in my position would have done.”
There is no higher accolade nor is there any more of a complement than to have members of a sister service accept you as one of them. SSG Achey's actions that day earned that acceptance and respect. And it also earned him a Silver Star.
PROJECT HERO is an ongoing attempt to highlight the valor of our military as they fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We constantly hear the negative and far to little of the positive and inspiring stories coming out of those countries. This is one small attempt to rectify that. If you know of a story of valor you'd like to see highlighted here (published on Saturday), please contact us. And we'd appreciate your link so we can spread the word.