AF Pararescueman Nicholas Brunetto Receives Silver Star for Actions in Afghanistan

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AF Pararescueman Staff Sgt. Nicholas Brunetto was awarded a Silver Star at Moody Air Force Base for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on February 8, 2020. The ceremony took place on October 29, 2020.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taryn Butler

Staff Sgt Nicholas Brunetto was an AF pararescueman assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron on February 8th, when his unit was suddenly attacked by machine-gun fire from an Afghan Army soldier.

“There was enough dust kicked up from everyone running and the shooting that you could not tell who was actually shooting. You could see muzzle blasts still coming from the machine gun, as well as from other areas.” SSgt Nicholas Brunetto

Eight American troops, and three others were severely injured in the attack, one of whom could only be saved with a blood transfusion. Brunetto, with no thought to his own life, braved enemy fire to retrieve critical medical equipment.

The Air Force reported,

While on a mission, Brunetto and the U.S. Army Special Forces team he was attached to were ambushed, leaving eight critically-injured U.S. and three partner force soldiers.

During triage, Brunetto determined a blood transfusion was the only hope for one of his teammates, and without regard for his own personal safety, maneuvered back through incoming fire to retrieve vital medical equipment.

“I often emphasize that effective warriors must have two things: discipline and purpose,” Franks said. “Nick is living proof that if you have those two things, the mission gets done. I don’t think Nick would disagree if I said that it was an inherent sense of discipline and purpose that kept him going on the battlefield that fateful day.”

Brunetto exposed himself again to enemy fire to carry several wounded patients to the extraction point for a helicopter evacuation of 11 injured teammates.

“The [people] there, myself and other guys who were able to do treatment did an amazing job and were able to keep everyone [who] was injured alive,” Brunetto said. “The team as a whole reacted really well to what the situation was and were able to get all the guys out of there fairly quickly.”

Franks lauded Brunetto for the heroism, dedication to his teammates, courage shown while under fire, and self-discipline shown to fulfill the duty of keeping personnel safe.

“Nick was trained and well equipped like every Airmen we send into combat,” Franks said. “Today, we recognize him for the courage he had to act. That is heroism. This Silver Star is a testament to all of the training and superior leadership that led up to Feb. 8, 2020, and for the people who fought next to him that day and lived to tell the tale.”

Two Special Forces Americans were killed in this attack, which we previously reported.

For his part, Brunetto didn’t expect the Silver Star, and credits battlefield medical advancements for allowing him to save lives that day. But it’s more than just discpline and purpose, it also take courage in the face of fire.

“I wasn’t expecting to be awarded for something like [this]. A lot of it was just being there and doing the job that I had volunteered for.” SSgt Nicholas Brunetto

Featured photo:  U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, left, 15th Air Force commander, pins a Silver Star Medal on Staff Sgt. Nicholas Brunetto, 38th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, during a ceremony at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Oct. 29, 2020. During the ceremony, Brunetto received a Silver Star Medal for his actions downrange. While deployed in February 2020, Brunetto performed a lifesaving procedure on a wounded teammate, and managed the evacuation of nearly a dozen patients while under attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taryn Butler)

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